Friday, December 31, 2010

Northern Harrier Breeding in December

Northern Harrier maleNorthern Harrier, formerly known as Marsh Hawk are found throughout North America,in various habitat, usually marsh, fields, or other open area.In early December ,2010  I was giving a bird walk and  we observed a Male Norther n Harrier interact with 2 coyotes. The Harrier would land near the coyotes and when they came too close, it would fly up, and relocate just close enough to keep them interested. He  moved the coyotes away from a perched female, which was vocalizing. The male flew to the female , they copulated , then he returned to coyotes. Copulation occurred 4 times in 15 minutes, in between leading the coyotes away from the female. Since then I  have observed copulation on two other occasions, all in the same area that Northern Harriers nested in during the normal breeding season of 2009 and 2010- April, May, June.

Leading coyote away from the female
Female Northern Harrier

Female #1 territory

Female  Northern Harrier #1

Western Bluebirds

 Western Bluebirds can be found regularly in winter on Shoshone Wetlands. There seems to be enough berries.40 to 50 at a time are sometimes seen working their way up and down the mesquite groves, finding ripe patches of mistletoe.

Female Phainopepla

Adult Male Phainopepla

This is a nice first year male Phainopepla which has taken up a small territory out on Shoshone Wetlands. He's guarding his newly acquired territory against Western Bluebirds, American Robins, Mockingbirds, and Cedar Waxwings.It's all about the mistletoe berries. For the Phainopepla it's about prime  territory. For the others, it's just about a good winter food source.

Some bird paintings

Blackburnian Warbler pair-after  J. Fenwick Lansdowne

Resplendant Quetzal at the nest -from my photo Monteverde Costa Rica

Yellow Crowned Night Heron Ding Darling Refuge-from my photo

Winter Willet  Sanibel Island, Florida from my Photo

Snowy Egret after a Greg Scott Photo

Screech Owl   Mobbed

Learning to paint birds

II would like to share a few of my oil paintings. I love to draw and paint birds. I've been painting for a few years but I'm really just learning. It's relaxing and very challenging.I'd like to improve my field sketching as well. Ill be painting desert birds soon, beginning with Phainopepla.
This is my first try at bird painting. I used Sherry Nelson's wonderful book  "How to Paint Garden Birds"
Violet Sabre-wing (males) Monteverde Costa Rica-
from my photos

Louisiana Heron(tri0colored Heron) from my photo

Gannet on Herring from internet photos

Egret Preening-after a Greg Downing photo

Blackburnian Warbler male-after an Eliot Porter photo

Blue Jay after Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Black & White Warbler after an Eliot Porter photo

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nesting Season Shoshone Wetlands and Amargosa Canyon PRBO project

Bell's Vireo nest in Narrow Leaf Willow

     I would like to share some of my favorite photos from my Spring/Summer job. During the breeding season, I work for Chris Mccreedy of PRBO (Point Reyes Bird Observatory) Conservation Sciences.Chris hired me in 2009 to work as a nest searcher on his Amargosa Canyon Songbird Project. It is a life long dream come true for me to have a real bird research job.We find the territories of breeding birds, locate the nests, and monitor them by counting the eggs, babies, and recording our observations about their development. It is the worlds coolest ,hottest job. I have seen, heard , and learned so much I can hardly begin to describe it. so I will show you what I mean.

Common Yellowthroat (photo by my coworker Wade Maclroy)

A cool dragonfly in deep cover (Amargosa Canyon)

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Black-Tailed Gnatcatcher

Crissal Thrasher chick and eggs

Yellow-Breasted Chat chicks
Black Tailed Gnatcatcher 7 days old ready for banding

Black Tailed Gnatcatcher chick 7 days old

Common Yellowthroat chicks

Bell's Vireo attempt  abandoned at 40 %

 Black Necked Stilt full clutch (4)

Blue Grosbeak chicks

Loggerhead Shrike chicks and an egg

Crissal Thrasher chick and eggs
Common Yellowthroat chicks

Bell's Vireo Incubating

Bell's Vireo incubating