Archive for the ‘Picture Galleries’ Category

Male Hybrid Northern Flicker. Copyright 2013 Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

Lately I’ve been getting a little bored with the birds in my backyard. Did I just type that out loud? Well, I must confess it’s true. We’ve had plenty of Dark-eyed Juncos, Song Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, chickadees (both Black-capped and Chestnut-backed), and more, and while I still love and enjoy them all, I’ve been hoping for a few weeks now to see something different. Something unusual. More colorful, even.

I got my wish. On Monday evening I had set out a new batch of suet (two different kinds — more about why in another blog post), and was hoping to see Northern Flickers and other woodpeckers at least by the next morning. I didn’t have to wait long before a Northern Flicker flew in and gradually worked his way over to one of the suet feeders.

At my dining room table, I sat like a statue with my camera, hoping to get a few good shots, which you’ll see above and below. (I apologize for the smudges on the window.) He made his way along the gutter, then down to the feeder of his choosing, and I began snapping pictures.

That’s when I noticed it. At first I thought I was losing my mind…or at least becoming extremely forgetful: I could have sworn Northern Flickers here in the west were the red-shafted kind, with red feathers under their wings and tails. Yet this one had yellow feathers. This bird otherwise “fit the bill” as far as western Northern Flickers go, with his red malars (moustaches), gray face, darker gray-brown cap, and light brown eye stripes, but I was stymied. And seriously considering a vacation for my brain…to someplace warm and sunny.

I grabbed my Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. (I’ve written a guide, too, but it’s just for Northwest birds, and I instinctively knew I needed Roger Tory Peterson’s birding “bible” for this.) My fears of extremely early dementia were laid to rest when Roger confirmed that I was right — western Northern Flickers are of the red-shafted variety. Was it possible this was an eastern Northern Flicker making a rare appearance on the western side of the U.S.? No…the head markings were all wrong for that to be the case. I then dared to wonder if this was another flicker that I’d previously read about: the Gilded Flicker. But how could that be? The Gilded Flicker, which once was thought to be a result of interbreeding between the red-shafted and yellow-shafted Northern Flickers but was ultimately named a species of its own back in the 60s, only lives in the American Southwest and Mexico!

I was beginning to think I had a far-from-home Gilded Flicker in my yard, but one thing gave me pause: As I mentioned, rather than having the light brown cap that Gilded Flickers usually have, this one had a gray-brown cap with lighter brown eye stripes. After further research, I figured out that my visitor is a hybrid of the western Northern Flicker and the eastern Northern Flicker, having traits of both.

There is actually a zone, ranging from Alaska to Texas, where much of this hybridizing occurs. Hybrid Northern Flickers are much more common in the Midwest and parts of Canada than they are in the Pacific Northwest, but are still known to be seen here once in a while.

I don’t know where he came from or if he’ll even be back, but I sure hope to see him again. Gorgeous, isn’t he?

Male Hybrid Northern Flicker. Copyright 2013 Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

Male Hybrid Northern Flicker. Copyright 2013 Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

Male Hybrid Northern Flicker. Copyright 2013 Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

Male Hybrid Northern Flicker. Copyright 2013 Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

Have you ever seen a hybrid Northern Flicker? I’d love to hear about it! Comment here or on our Facebook page.



Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

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It’s always interesting getting to see other parts of the country or world. I was given the chance to do just that recently when I took a trip to Southern California with my sister. We’re both from SoCal originally, but I hadn’t been there personally since I was a teenager, so I appreciated the chance to visit again, take in the scenery, and even do some people watching. (By the time we got to the Long Beach airport on Monday for our return flight, I looked like something the cat dragged in. I’m pretty sure I was an interesting sight for people watchers, too.)

Being in another area geographically is also a boon to birders, as it’s a fantastic chance to see birds we normally wouldn’t get to. Personally speaking, I was able to add at least a couple new-to-me bird species to my life list. That’s not as many as I would have liked to add, obviously, but I’ll take it.

Our flight from Seattle to Long Beach, CA, left last Thursday afternoon, and as I told my sister today in a text, I am the Queen of Awkward Moments. I own and fully embrace that title, and proved it a couple of times (or more) on our trip. Our jet, coming and going from Seattle to Long Beach, was a Bombardier CRJ200. It’s not a big plane at all, carrying only about 75 passengers, with four seats per row and an aisle in between them. If you’re tall, and by that I mean over 5 feet, watch out. I’m 5’2″, and the first thing I did as I was trying to get to my window seat was to walk straight into the overhead compartment. That’s right: I walked into it. I didn’t duck, as everyone else who was paying attention knew to do, and am still sporting a painful little bruise on my forehead as a souvenir.

We had quite a bit planned (including many hours of driving) for the few days we’d be in California, so a day of birding was out of the question. But…a birder is a birder is a birder…wherever the birder happens to be. I knew I’d be keeping my eyes open for birds everywhere we went.

Case in point: As our little jet was landing in Long Beach, one of the first scenes to greet me was two fairly large birds sitting on a sign next to the runway. These big, black birds with pink heads — most likely Turkey Vultures — were just sitting there as if they were…uh…waiting for us. Talk about a creepy welcome. Not exactly what you want to see when your plane is trying to land.

The only other chance I had to see birds on this trip was the next day in Santa Monica. Before plopping down on the beach (which was very crowded but still a fun experience), we strolled up and down the pier — a well-known landmark you’ve most likely seen either on TV or in movies, if not in person. (If it’s in the water, can it still be called a landmark? Hmm.)

Looking back toward the rides from the end of the Santa Monica Pier. Photo: Pacific Northwest Birds

Looking back toward the rides from the end of the Santa Monica pier. Photo: Pacific Northwest Birds

The bird I was most hoping to see at the Pier was the Brown Pelican, and I was not disappointed. We saw several in the water, in fact, and a flock of 30-40 flying away as we walked down to the beach. All of the pelicans we saw in the water were juveniles.

Juvenile Brown Pelican, Santa Monica, CA. Photo: J. Cavendish, 2013

Juvenile Brown Pelican, Santa Monica, CA. Photo: J. Cavendish, 2013


Two juvenile Brown Pelicans in Santa Monica, CA. Photo: Pacific Northwest Birds, 2013

Two juvenile Brown Pelicans in Santa Monica, CA. Photo: Pacific Northwest Birds, 2013

We also saw this Double-crested Cormorant:

Double-crested Cormorant in Santa Monica, CA. Photo: J. Cavendish, 2013

Double-crested Cormorant in Santa Monica, CA. Photo: J. Cavendish, 2013

and the token gulls, of course. Here are two Glaucous-winged Gulls, adult and juvenile:

Left: Glaucous-winged Gull, adult. Right: Glaucous-winged Gull, juvenile. Santa Monica, CA. Photos: J. Cavendish, 2013

Left: Glaucous-winged Gull, adult. Right: Glaucous-winged Gull, juvenile. Santa Monica, CA. Photo: J. Cavendish, 2013

Big thanks to my sister for taking some of these pictures!

Which birds have you seen this summer? Tell us about them in the comments below or on Facebook.


Learn more about your backyard birds in Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds. Get it for your Kindle (which you can also read on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with this free reading app), Nook, on Smashwords, or in the iTunes bookstore.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram!

When my oldest son came home from work last night, I told him I had seen some “seahawks” at the park. Though he’s a football fan, he wasn’t too impressed, as he works at a store at The Landing in Renton and sees the actual Seahawks come in regularly. (Their headquarters are about two minutes from there.)

“Which ones?” he asked, with the intention of calling my bluff.

“Not sure of their names, but they were sitting on top of one of the ballpark lights,” I responded. “Weird, huh?”

I then gave him a quick lesson about a bird called the osprey and how its nickname is the “seahawk,” which is how the team got its name. (Or so the rumor goes.)

Osprey vs. Seahawk

(I personally don't see the resemblance, but what do I know?) Photo credit: blog.seattlepi.com.

Seeing the ospreys and their nest was one of the most amazing things to happen to me in quite some time. To me, it was that cool. I was sitting on a bench at Petrovitsky Park in Renton, WA, keeping an eye on my daughter as she played. I heard an eagle in the distance, but didn’t see it. Less than two minutes later I heard the unmistakable call of an osprey high above me. I watched, mesmerized, as he flew in from the direction of a nearby lake (the osprey’s diet consists mainly of fish) and headed toward its nest high above everything on top of a huge light fixture. My camera — which I’d had a feeling I should take along — really wasn’t a match for how far away and high up they were, but I was thrilled just to be a spectator of these magnificent birds and did get some good shots to share with you. Enjoy!

(Click on the images to enlarge them.)

Male osprey heading for the nest.

Male osprey heading for the nest.

Osprey nest atop light fixture.

This picture should give you some perspective on how big the nest is. This light fixture is huge -- as is the nest.

Female osprey on nest.

Another view of the nest and light fixture. That's mama, looking out from her abode.

Female osprey and baby on nest.

If you look close, you'll see one of the baby ospreys next to mama. I believe there are two juveniles in the nest.

Female osprey on nest.

Isn't she regal? Here you can see the dark eyestripe, one of the markings that make ospreys so easy to identify.

If you’re in the area and would like to visit the ospreys, please try not to get too close. The nest is in the lowest level of baseball fields, which means you can get a pretty good view by staying on the walkway between the upper fields. Ospreys aren’t shy around humans, so you won’t scare them away, but still try to give them their space. (Don’t forget your camera and binoculars.)

I’ll be returning often to follow their progress, so I might see you there!
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Learn all about the birds in your own backyard! Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds is now available for you to read (and take with you!) on your Kindle, Kindle app, or on your PC or Mac.

Also available at Barnes and Noble for the Nook.

Recently, I showed you a gallery of spring birds that have been gracing the feeders in my backyard. As a fitting follow-up to that post, today and tomorrow I’ll be featuring some of their offspring, beginning with dark-eyed juncos. (Try not to melt from the cuteness.)

Fluffy baby dark-eyed junco. Photo copyright Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

It's true: This little fluff ball is a dark-eyed junco. If you usually have juncos throughout the year and are now hearing strange, short buzzing sounds near your feeders, that sound is most likely coming from baby juncos. While they wait for their vocal chords to mature, that is how they sound...like large insects. (You may find it a cute sound once you realize where it's coming from.) This little guy was watching his papa feed a couple of siblings a few feet away.

Daddy dark-eyed junco with babies. Photo copyright: Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

And here's papa, hulling seeds for his youngins as he teaches them how to eat.

Junco baby. Photo copyright: Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

One of the siblings. "So these are seeds, huh? I'll take that one. No...that one. No..." (Wouldn't you just love to pet that soft, little head while he's busy thinking about the seeds?)

Fluffy baby junco. Photo copyright: Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

The angrier he got while waiting, the fluffier he seemed to get, too. "Papa? Still waiting. PAPA!"

Juncos...daddy and babies. Photo copyright: Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

Apparently, papa is oblivious to the squawker behind him. Or overwhelmed. There's only one of him, afterall. (I know the feeling.)

Fluffy baby junco. Photo copyright: Sally Dinius/Pacific Northwest Birds

Eventually, he grew tired of waiting and started preening instead. Good thing, too -- he was a fluffy mess (albeit a cute one).

Part II will be here tomorrow. Stay tuned! In the meantime, if you’ve been taking pictures of baby birds (even if the pictures are from years past), we’d love to have you share them on our Facebook page.

Save big on birdfeeder (and more) close-outs and overstocks at Duncraft.
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Learn all about the birds in your own backyard! Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds is now available for you to read (and take with you!) on your Kindle, Kindle app, or on your PC or Mac.

Also available at Barnes and Noble for the Nook.

One of the greatest joys of watching birds in springtime is capturing them in the perfect shot (with a camera, of course), and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. It would seem that my photography bug has rubbed off on my family, as my husband and kids have also gotten in on the act. We’ve taken so many pictures — and have gotten some really great captures — that to not share them would be, well, silly.

I hope you’ll enjoy these pictures and be inspired to shoot some of your own. I happen to know that quite a few of you do photograph birds, and I love when they’re posted on our Facebook page. If you’ve yet to post your pictures of Pacific Northwest birds, please come over and do so! I’ll be taking all of our members’ submitted photos and showcasing them in an album on the page (with photographer attribution). Fun stuff!

And now, without further adieu and in no particular order…a gallery of spring birds.

Male black-headed grosbeak. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

Male black-headed grosbeak. Knows he's hot. Posing.


Female black-headed grosbeak. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

Female black-headed grosbeak. Sittin' pretty.


Male American goldfinch. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

Male American goldfinch. Takes a bite, checks his surroundings. Takes a bite, checks his surroundings. Paranoid much?


Black-capped chickadee. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

Black-capped chickadee. I lured this one close to the house with a recording of another black-capped chickadee. He sat there for a few minutes, mournfully answering the chickadee on the recording, clearly confused as to where it could be. I felt like a trickster...but I got a great photo!


Banded pigeon. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

Banded pigeon. Beautiful yet skittish. When two or three land on the shepherd's crook, it tips, which scares them silly. (And, no, they don't learn their lesson.)


Song sparrow. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

Song sparrow. Looks like he has a growth. Name's Igor.


Squirrel. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

Taken by my husband. Not a bird.


Evening grosbeaks. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

A trio of evening grosbeaks. They always look so serious!


Male purple finch. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

A male purple finch. Roger Tory Peterson, famed ornithologist and illustrator, said this bird appeared to have been "dipped in raspberry juice." Once you see one in person, you'll agree!


Goldfinches. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

Goldfinches going nuts for thistle. One of several fun pictures my son has taken.


Male rufous hummingbird. Copyright Pacific Northwest Birds/Sally Dinius

Male rufous hummingbird. I've come to recognize the sound of this particular hummer's wingbeats as he approaches. Incredible creatures, aren't they?

These pictures and more will be posted in a “Birds of Spring” album on our Facebook page very soon. Come over and join us, if you haven’t already!

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Learn all about the birds in your own backyard! Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds is now available for you to read (and take with you!) on your Kindle, Kindle app, or on your PC or Mac.

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Persuade the hummers to stick around for pictures with Pop’s Hummingbird Swing! (The black scroll and wood design will look nice on your patio, too.) To watch a fun video and learn why putting up a swing for your hummingbirds is a great idea, click the link or the picture below.
Pop's Hummingbird Swing Black

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