Birds in flight

I decided to practice shooting birds in flight (camera, not gun).  Here are some of those practice shots.  We can see later if I learned anything other than “must be more patient”.  All these were shot at 1/1,000th of a second.

I am always fascinated by the degree of control by these birds.  Obviously there is a lot of independent control of parts of flight surfaces and landing gear in order to perform all these aerobatics.  It’s very far from just flapping up and down.

This blue jay is not being chased by robo-heron, just a trick of perspective.

Blue Jay
Blue Jay

The next two are the same chickadee, taken about 1/40th second apart, as it lands on the peanut feeder.

Chickadee 1
Chickadee 1
Chickadee 2
Chickadee 2

The lesson from those two, which are blurred from being magnified, is to be more patient.  Zoom in on a smaller spot and wait, rather than wider angle in the hopes of catching more in a shorter wait time.

Next are a pair of chickadees showing off their bush skills.  They don’t seem at all troubled at the challenge of zooming around in a dogwood bush in spite of the very limited clearance between branches.

Chickadees in dogwood
Chickadees in dogwood
Chickadees in dogwood 2
Chickadees in dogwood 2

Next are three shots of the same nuthatch, landing on a twig, from which the peanut feeder is suspended.

Nuthatch
Nuthatch
Nuthatch 2
Nuthatch 2
Nuthatch 3
Nuthatch 3

The birds don’t fight, but it is generally understood that when a bigger bird arrives, the smaller one leaves.

Nuthatch displaces chickadee
Nuthatch displaces chickadee
Woodpecker displaces nuthatch
Woodpecker displaces nuthatch

Finally, something I didn’t see startled a mixed flock of ground-feeding birds.  I’m not sure if the one junco that stayed put is going to win out by getting more food, or lose if the hawk catches it.

Juncos and sparrows
Juncos and sparrows

Which way is up? Bird feeding orientation

Here are some pictures of the birds that like suet and peanuts, mostly those that naturally make much of their living getting insects out of tree bark.

I’m not sure why, perhaps some people who know more about it can comment, but they differ in their preferred orientation while feeding.

The nuthatches prefer heads-down, at 180º from my preferred feeding orientation.

White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch

Chickadees seem more sensible to me.

Chickadee
Chickadee

The small woodpeckers are often the “right way” up, but as the level goes down, they switch to a horizontal orientation.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

The rose-breasted nuthatches are also upside-down feeders but here are shots as they get ready for dinner; nuthatches at least land the right-way up, before turning over. On trees, they also run downwards after landing. Do they ever crash, beak-first, into upwardly mobile woodpeckers?

Rose-breasted Nuthatch landing
Rose-breasted Nuthatch landing
Rose-breasted Nuthatch
Rose-breasted Nuthatch

It was -27ºC when I got up this morning, but as it was a nice sunny day, the temperature soon soared to -12. So the birds’ feathers were well fluffed-up.

Winter birds in Ontario

Birds in my garden in the last few days.

It has been around -15ºC so being a small bird means you lose heat rather fast unless you have really good insulation.

This Downy Woodpecker has what is needed although it resembles a sphere of feathers with a beak sticking out of one end and a stiff tail from the other.  In summer it is much a much sleeker bird.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

This nuthatch follows its example.

 

Rose-breasted nuthatch 1
Rose-breasted nuthatch 1
Rose-breasted nuthatch 2
Rose-breasted nuthatch 2

We have two species of nuthatch around, the Rose-breasted and the White-breasted.  You probably don’t need the captions to know which is which.

White-breasted nuthatch
White-breasted nuthatch

Nuthatches tend to run down trees and to feed what to us seems to be upside down.

White-breasted nuthatch 2
White-breasted nuthatch 2

The chickadees seem more sensible.

Chickadee
Chickadee

The female cardinal likewise fluffs out her feathers and gives me some side-eye because I am in a nice warm house, shooting through the window.

Female Cardinal 1
Female Cardinal 1

This was a day later when the temperature had soared to -8ºC.

Female Cardinal 2
Female Cardinal 2

The sunset maple twigs also provides a bit of colour.  I got a “bird and garden” magazine for Christmas.  It suggested some plants I could use which would flower outdoors in January for a bit of colour. (Well, it said “color”, which explains the optimism).

Female Cardinal 3
Female Cardinal 3

But for real colour, the male cardinal is the real thing.  You may get tired of my pictures of him but we don’t tire of his visits.  The junco wants his share of the attention.

Male Cardinal 2
Male Cardinal 2
Male Cardinal
Male Cardinal

Redwinged blackbirds return (to a snowstorm)

The blackbirds always migrate so this is the first real spring bird.  Foolish creature, we’re having another snow storm.  I hope the robins aren’t too close; although the blackbirds eat at the feeder so should survive until the thaw, I have never seen a robin feeding except on the ground which is still 20-40 cms deep in snow.

The redwinged blackbirds live next door on the edge of a dugout in the swamp, nesting among the cattails but are usually at the feeder daily throughout the season.  They need to watch out for the snapping turtles which are the nearest we get to alligators.

Redwinged Blackbird
Redwinged Blackbird

He is probably hungry (didn’t see the female yet) after his long journey.  He stayed at the feeder for quite a while, through several changes of species.

Redwinged Blackbird 2
Redwinged Blackbird 2

While I had the camera out, I took a picture of the nuthatch – a year-round resident.

Red-Breasted-Nuthatch

Great Backyard Dinosaur Count

Today is the last day of Great Backyard Bird Count so I diverted a half hour to counting. Here are some pictures and the count.

I almost missed the bird count.  Thanks Twitter for last minute reminder.  As soon as I started the clock, every bird fled for cover in the trees but a few flew back over the half hour I could spare.
Here’s some pictures.

This shot of our local pair of cardinals would have been better for Valentine’s Day.  They are always together.

Cardinals in thornbush
Cardinals in thornbush

All the birds round here can fly.  Even the turkeys are pretty good at it given their size.  None of those showed up for the count, haven’t been around for a couple of days since we mutually startled each other when they were hiding a few feet away from me. So here are some juncos.

Junco flying 1
Junco flying 1
Junco flying 2
Junco flying 2

It is still only -10ºC, up from -20 this morning, so they’re still fluffing up their feathers.

Junco in dogwood
Junco in dogwood

Plenty of protection in the thorn bush – they’re safe from the hawk here. Another no-show for the count, though.

Juncos in thorn bush
Three Juncos in thorn bush

Finally, a negotiation over the feeder.  The cardinal crouched and snapped its beak at the blue jay. The cardinal got to keep its spot but the blue jay just moved 10cm away and they ignored each other after that.  Human disputes over territory should work as well.

Blue Jay and Cardinal negotiate sharing
Blue Jay and Cardinal negotiate sharing

Here are my counts for 1/2 hour starting at noon. Full sun, 60cm snow cover (hard packed, icy).

Species Count
Blue Jay 3
Junco 23
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Chickadee 3
Downy Woodpecker 1
Cardinal 2
Crow 3

I’m sure all the others will be back now I’ve stopped counting.
Dinosaur count? Birds are the last of the dinosaurs.