Showing posts with label mbgphoto backyard birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mbgphoto backyard birds. Show all posts

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Reviewing Hawks in my Backyard

Young Cooper's Hawk
I have always enjoyed watching the birds at the feeders in our backyard and have been told to watch out for Hawks because they can kill the birds.  Because of this, I had never really studied much about Hawks and just considered them a bird to avoid.  Recently I have photographed some Hawks in and around our backyard and now I have a new appreciation for the fascinating creatures that they are.  Up in the air they always looked menacing, but when seen up close in a photograph I realized what beautiful details they have.  In this post I will share with you some information on two of the Hawks I have photographed in our yard.  The first is the Cooper's Hawk and the second is the Red-Shouldered Hawk. 

Cooper's Hawk

I have seen Cooper's Hawks or at least what I think are Cooper's Hawks fairly often in our area.  The photo above was taken on our back fence.  It was identified by several people on bird sites online as a young Cooper's Hawk, so I feel fairly confident with that identification.  Sometimes I find hawks colorings are so similar, especially with the differences in adults and juveniles that I am not sure of my identification.  I wrote a review on one of my favorite bird books several months back.  It is the book I used to find the information on the Cooper's Hawk.  Here is a link to that review. What it's Like to be a Bird
Here is what it has to say about the bird.
  • It is a medium-sized hawk at about 16 inches long.
  • They often keep watch at feeders and then swoop in low hoping to surprise the flock.
  • They target mid-sized birds that are slower flyers such as doves and starlings.  These birds are easier for them to grab with their talons.
  • The juveniles have vertical brown streaks on their chests with brown back while the adults will have tight horizontal reddish barring on their chests with gray crowns and backs.  Both have barred tails that are rounded at the tips.
Here are a couple photos that I think fit these descriptions.



 Red-Shouldered Hawk


The photo above is a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  I captured it sitting on the satellite dish on the roof of the house behind ours.  I zoomed in and quickly took this shot before he flies away and then I carefully check my camera settings and tried to wait for him to turn his head, so I get him looking my way.  Before I could get another shot, he took off and I was able to capture him in flight.  I am particularly proud of this shot. It was the first time I had seen one of these hawks.

I looked him up in my guide to backyard birds and found the following information.

  • It is a fairly common, medium to large hawk.
  • The adult has reddish colored upperwing coverts and also densely barred reddish underparts. The wings and tail are dramatically barred in black and white.
  • The juvenile has brown-streaked underparts and a dark tail with many pale bands.
  • They make a loud screaming sound that sounds like (KEE-ahh) which is given in a series.
  • They are widespread and found in well-watered woodlands and suburban areas with nearby wood lots. 
  • They are a perch hunter and feed on frogs, snakes, lizards and small mammals.
  • Their nests are located high in trees and are made of bulky sticks.

Here is a link to the book where I got my information.




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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Review of Bluebird Facts and Photography


I have long been a fan of Bluebirds but until this year I have not been able to  capture any photographs that I really liked.  During a very cold spell in January a group of Bluebirds visited our backyard and I was able to capture some nice photos.  I had a camera set up on a tripod in front of our glass doors and I snapped away as the Bluebirds checked out our feeding spots.  For those interested I am using a Sony A57 with a Tamron150-600 lens.  My camera is set to A (aperture mode) and I'm using a 6.5 aperture in most of these photos.



Eastern Bluebird Identification

These birds are small thrush type birds with a round head and big belly.

Male Bluebirds

The male Bluebirds are particularly bright in color as you can see in the photo above.  They have a bright blue colored head and back along with their tail feathers.  Their throat and chest are a bright rusty color.

Female Bluebirds

Female Bluebird

The female bluebirds have the same color pattern as the males and they are a similar size, however their coloring is much more subdued.  Their head appears an almost grayish color as you can see in the photo above.

Juvenile Bluebirds

The juvenile Bluebirds have spotting on their backs and chests and some blue
beginning in their wings and chests.

Feeding Behavior and Diet


From spring to early fall the Bluebirds diets consist of mainly insects.  In the winter they rely mainly on fruits.  As you can see in the photo above they will also resort to seeds in the winter.

I have found that if I do not clean out my flower containers after blooming season the Bluebirds and other birds like to rummage through the dead plants.


Nesting

Although Bluebirds will use a nest box they also like holes in old trees, particularly old woodpecker nests.  They fill their nests with grass and other plant material.  A Bluebird usually lays 4-5 eggs and they are inculpated by the female for 11-19 days.  The fledgling birds leave the nest in about 19 days.

References

I gathered my information from several online sources as well as from my book Backyard Guide to the Birds.  Here are my references.
  • allaboutbirds.org/guide
  • Audubon.org
  • wild-bird-watching.com

                                              



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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review of Facts on the Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Distinguishing Features

The Eurasian tree sparrow is similar to the house sparrow but with a few distinguishing features.  The most notable one is the black patch in the middle of a pure white cheek.  You can see that feature in the photo above.  These birds also have a rich chestnut colored crown and nape.  Both sexes are similar and the young birds are just a duller version of the adult birds.  

I had seen these birds in our yard for several years and did not realize they were different from the house sparrows until I took some photographs and started to study their features.  Since they are only in a limited region of the USA I did not find them in my pocket field guide to birds and had to do a bit more searching online to find more information. 


History in USA

Eurasian Tree Sparrows were first introduced in the USA when 20 birds were brought to St. Louis, Missouri from Germany.  It is said that these birds probably would have multiplied and spread except that the House Sparrow was introduced to the US at about the same time.  The House Sparrow is a tougher bird and kept the Eurasian Tree Sparrows from spreading.  Today you mostly find these birds around the St. Louis area, although you may find them in other parts of Missouri, Illinois and southern Iowa.  We live about 40 miles west of St. Louis and have quite a few of the birds in our yard year round.  They seem to stay in some of our low shrubs around our house.  They are frequent visitors at both our finch feeders and our wild bird feeders.  They also like to visit our birdbath.

More Information

If you would like to read more about these interesting birds, I would suggest the following link where I gathered much of my information. Audubon Field guide   At this site you can also listen to the calls of the birds.

Bird Guide

I find this bird guide to be  valuable tool for identifying birds in my backyard.  It did have a small blurb on Eurasian tree sparrow under the heading Old World Sparrows.

                                                               


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