Have you ever been hanging out somewhere and heard several birds singing away… Was there only one ordinary look bird within view? It was probably a Mockingbird. To this day, it is still one of my personal favorites. We found this particular Mocker on our Oklahoma trip. Beautiful bird. Kind of a grey looking bird with long, dark wings. In flight, you will catch a distinctive band of bright white in the wing.
We have one that is ever expanding his territory at work. He greets our entry into the facility every morning. Singing from the top of the three bushes, a tree and a pole. Today he expanded by adding a small tree across from the administration building.
Hi Guys! I spent the night in the hospital, courtesy of an over-active blood pressure and high cholesterol. Yes! Hospital stays always make for a fun time. Fun! Fun! Fun! Kind of like a cruise. Same constant unwanted attention; yet, minus the big body of water, food and ambiance.
I managed to capture several massive flocks of Egrets flying Southeast from the window of my Palo Pinto General Hospital jail cell. Probably running from the fires at Possum Kingdom Lake. Not much else flew by. The nice ladies in the colorful shirts finally got me to stay in bed and I stared at the walls for several hours. Anyhow, after a long night of playing (being) human pin cushion, I attained my freedom and left for home. It is a positive thing that the Charge Nurse, doctor and staff were sad to see me leave the floor and the premises. =/
Captain Morgan and I yard sat in the yard and communed with nature for a few hours. Nothing more calming than sweating profusely while waiting on something of interest to fly-by( BIRDING – gotta love it ). It is starting to cool off now, but I lost the light under our canopy of trees. So here I am once again.
The return home – While I sat on the porch step, a House Finch came by to say hello and duck for cover. A Mississippi Kite was hunting just overhead. The Finch heard the camera but did not move. Once the Kite passed, the Finch hauled himself over to the nearest tree limb to watch me at a distance. The mighty Titmouse and and the usual Mockingbird came by. I believe these roost nearby cause I KNOW THESE TWO BIRDS. That sums up my day of relaxation. Sleepy and buzzed… Hey… don’t judge! Medicinal purposes until I see a cardiologist. Missed items include a few sparrows, wrens and a beautiful set of Cardinals. The tinking of my glass as it was placed next to me must have – hiccup – scared ‘em off. PRO HINT – don’t drink margaritas while birding. The mixer WILL interfere with your successful outcome. Just sayin.
Enjoy the photos! I sure enjoy taking them. The move from the XS-1 over to the T3-i was a good decision.
The Northern Mockingbird still stands as one of my top ten favorites. Watching them hunt this past week only strengthened that standing. It was a bad week for grasshoppers. I caught two spiders and three different Mockingbirds feasting on the yellow devils. One spider photo was included on this post with the hopes that someone will identify it. There is a larger gallery of Mockingbirds posted here.
We have several that hunt continuously around our house and at work. Mockingbirds have fairly small heads, a long, thin bill, semi-long tails and long legs. They are tons of fun to monitor and track. One cannot miss the white patches on the wings when they are in flight.
The Tufted-Titmouse is one of the four primary birds at our feeders right now. I added a Cardinal mix with black oil seed to draw them in to the feeders. This variety was another early discovery for me. When a Titmouse finds a large seed, you will see it carry to a perch and crack it with sharp whacks of its bill. It will perform this duty again and again. They are eternally entertaining to watch. They hang sideways at times while on the feeder. The Tufted-Titmouse have large black eyes and a brushy crest that cannot be missed.
We are looking to add color at the feeders but if I had one feathery fellow to choose for pure entertainment value, the Tufted-Titmouse would be it. They carry on and argue with one another. Spend more time running each other off than they do actually eating.
Updated July 15th, 2012, several new photos. The House Sparrows moved aside for the return of the Tits. These little guys dart in and out so fast, one has to be quick with the shutter.
The White-winged Dove is a common sight in our Mineral Wells, Texas neighborhood and the Southwest. The White-winged dove has a large white patch in its wings that make it easy to distinguish from other dove. The white patch is visible as a white line along the front of the wing when perched. It has square tail with a white tip. The skin around the eyes is bright blue and it has a black streak on its cheek.
Our White-wings are heavily mixed in with the Tits and Chickadees at all of our feeders. They especially love corn and small wild bird feeds. When nothing else is flocked at the feeders, one will always find a few of dove as well as a squirrel or two. The dove are great to watch when on feeders. Very uncoordinated and have an issue actually getting to the seed. Doves are meant to be ground feeders, like chickens. They will pick up tiny seed and rocks. The tiny rocks help in their digestion. Their behavior and bad make-up remind me of a circus act gone bad.
On one of our trips to Possum Kingdom lake, Desi and I came across a flock of juvenile and female Purple Martins. The Martins were swarming around a Mockingbird and a couple of Eurasian Doves that were chilling out in the top of a large tree. The Martin is the largest of the North American swallows. The male is dark in color, while the juvenile has a lighter color breast and underpants. The female is bluish black on back and a dingy gray brown chest with a gray collar around back of neck. These were young missing some of the markings but their flight, behavior and tail shape is unmistakable.
Birding can be done anytime, anywhere. Just have your camera ready and listen. It was a work day when I caught these guys. I arrived early to work and went to a nearby field to watch a doe with two fawns bouncing around. The deer quickly tired of my company, so I started looking up and about. A Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher and Western Kingbird where having “words” over who had permission to squat on a wire and a tree just below.
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is nearly unmistakable with its long forked tail and salmon-pink belly. The Flycatcher is plentiful in our area of the county making it an easy find. It was one of my first checks on the Region 2 birding list for Palo Pinto County.
The wife is at work, so I take a walk in the neighborhood. It was a bright, clear day. In fact, it was a bit bright and late for photography. During the walk, I saw two very distinct looking birds diving into the trees a couple of blocks over. They were decent size raptors, grey in color with white heads. So, I walk over. Upon my arrival, I discover a couple of Western Kingbirds fighting over the right to a tall tree branch. The winner was NOT well rewarded. I captured a couple of photos of the squawking bird when this raptor took the Kingbird right out of my frame and into a nearby tree. The raptor, I later discovered was a Mississippi Kite. WOW! Our Oaks are FULL of cicadas and the noise must have drawn them in… more on them in another post. Enlarge the photo below and look in the top left corner. Pure luck!
Western Kingbirds are very common throughout Palo Pinto county; especially, throughout my neighborhood. Their bright yellow underpants are hard to miss. One of the shots I captured was sorta rare, the red crest on top of the head is rarely seen. Photo also seen at Texas Bird Images.
Northern Mockingbird, the state bird of Texas is one of my personal favorites. They are the quintessential bird. If you ever hear ten different birds singing outside your house, with only one in sight, that bird is probably a Mockingbird.
Taken: 30 June, 2012
Focal length: 137.4mm
Shutter speed: 1/450s
Taken: 2 June, 2012
Focal length: 109.3mm
Shutter speed: 1/680s
Taken: 25 May, 2012
Focal length: 158.6mm
Shutter speed: 1/500s
We have several that hunt continuously around our house and at work. They dance and flagrantly harass birds, cats, squirrels and our dogs by dive bombing them, legs extended. Mockingbirds have small heads, a long, thin bill, semi-long tails and long legs. Those bars on the wings make this a definite identification. They are tons of fun to monitor and track. One cannot miss the white patches on the wings when they are in flight.
Well, it is official, I am an avid bird watcher. It is mostly due to this graceful, long-winged raptor called the Mississippi Kite. It was a bright, sunny mid-morning walk. There was a loud ruckus in the tree a few yards down. This fairly large raptor flew out carrying “something.” Still not sure what. A neighborhood lady told me that it was a Chicken Hawk. No offense, but feeling like she was probably not a strong source for bird information, I sent out a few pictures. It was discovered to be a Mississippi Kite. The Kite has long, narrow, pointed wings, and a long black tail. The head is a white to pearly grey with a body that is a darker gray.
During that walk ( as discussed on my Western Kingbird post), this Kite was seen dive bombing Western Kingbirds. It was amazing to watch and my first experience at actually “following birds.” For the past three or four weeks, I have been watching this one, become two. Now, there are four in my neighborhood plus a fledgling. All four adults hunt everyday, gliding over my house in search of cicadas. One day I follow one of the Kites carrying a really long “worm” or small snake. I watched it disappear into a tree. There, about 25 feet off the ground is the nest. A fuzzy white head is clearly visible over the edge of the nest while it glares down at me. With three adults circling overhead and one in the tree; I made haste out of the area. Not that I am really worried about being attacked (maybe a little) by a bird; it was that I did not want to upset the site. The raptors are still in the immediate area circling over Northwest Mineral Wells, Texas. Thanks to Jim Peterson of Texas Bird Images and North Central Texas birds for helping me with the identification.