Sunday, March 5, 2017

Green is Great

Especially when it is a bird.

Like a hummingbird.
(Purple-throated Mountain-gem on the left, Coppery-headed Emeralds on the right.)

 (Green Violetear)
 (Green-crowned Brilliant)
(Crowned Woodnymph)

 Or a Great Green Macaw
 Emerald Toucanets have different shades of green
as does the Orange-chinned Parakeet.
 While the female Green Honeycreeper is almost fluorescent green, she is so bright.
 (The male is kind of aqua, not quite green and not quite blue.)

And the Emerald Tanager is the same shade as the leaves,but its head is so bright it could have been in the yellow section.
 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Yellow is always my favourite

There are a lot of yellow birds in Costa Rica. We saw a number of them.

The Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher is only partially yellow.
The Black-cowled Oriole is more black than yellow, but what yellow there is, is  very bright.
The yellow in the Prothonotary Warbler is stunning.
There is a special Yellow Warbler in Costa Rica, the subspecies Mangrove Warbler.
In an area full of tanagers, it is not surprising that at least one is yellow.  This is the Silver-throated Tanager.
There are at least three yellow euphonias.
This is the Yellow-thoated Euphonia.
The Yellow-crowned Euphonia
And one that we first saw several years ago in Mexico, the Scrub Euphonia. The name refers to the bird's preferred habitat rather than a reference to its appearance or behaviour.
I leave my favourite yellow bird for the last.  The Collared Redstart was one of the cutest birds we saw in Costa Rica.  Though it was only in one region that we visited, it was common enough that we saw it several times.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Blue Birds come in Many Colours

Blue Dacnis
Shining Honeycreeper
Red-Legged Honeycreeper
Two Blue-grey Tanagers with the partially blue Hooded Tanager
Yes, I really like blue birds.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Problem with Hummingbirds

The problem with hummingbirds is that they look different in different light.  Sometimes that makes them more interesting, but sometimes it just makes identification more difficult.

While in Costa Rica we saw many hummingbirds.  A few were easy to identify, many were not.  At the time it was easy because we had Steve our guide there telling us that this is a Scintillant and that is a Volcano.  I snapped photos happily and never dreamed that when I looked at them later I would have no idea which was which and no memory of which one we saw at 8:36 and which was at 10:24.

I mentioned those two because they are the ones that are causing the most trouble. I found a website that showed photos of males and females of both which one would think would make identification easier.  One would think.  But then we are back to the problem of lighting.  None of my photos showed a bright purple or orange throat.  And my birds did not cooperate like the ones on the website and sit side by side on a branch--still--and pointing in the same direction.

So here are photos of a new hybrd discovered last December:  Scintillant-Volcano Hummingbirds.







Okay, perhaps I exaggerate a bit.  I labelled the first three pictures Scintillant and the next two Volcano.  I'd like to name the last one a Volcano as well, but I'm too confused to commit myself.

If you would like to weigh in on this (please do) here is the link to the Neotropical page that shows what these birds can look like under great lighting. I'd love to know for sure which is which.
http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/identification?p_p_spp=281496


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Winter Birds from my Office Chair

I have seen birds since my last post, more than four hundred species in fact, most of them while in Costa Rica in December.  I plan to post a few photos of those, but today I am posting the birds that I saw while I should have been doing useful things with numbers.

The bird we see in our yard in winter the most is the House Sparrow.  There are dozens of them, more than we have in the summer.


Blue Jays vary in our yard, some winters we don't see any, in other years the Jays are here intermittently.  This year we seem to have about 4 or 5 on an ongoing basis.  There were more in the fall, but I think some moved on.

(In the interest of full disclosure, the photos of the Blue Jays were taken from my kitchen window, not the office window, but the same birds have been seen from the office, I just liked these photos better.)

One of my favourite winter birds, the Common Redpoll, like the Blue Jays, are not here every year.  This year I've seen maybe three or four at a time, but I am quite sure there are more around.  One of the things about a farm is that there are many food choices, showing up at the feeders by the house is not required in order to be fed.

We have a Red-breasted Nuthatch this winter.  I may have seem one in our yard occasionally in the past, but this little guy is a regular at our feeders.  Very exciting for me.

And then there is the summer bird that shouldn't be here but is.  This American Goldfinch startled me when I saw him a few days ago.  I have no idea where he has been since all his buddies few south, but he is here eating my niger seed this week.
And occasionally the sunflower seeds too.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nelson's Sparrow

Found several of these small prairie birds in a seeded hay field close to our home.



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

June Birds

The most exciting bird experience in June was seeing a bird that I searched for all last summer and a few weeks this spring.  Early on June 5 I saw it for the first time.  I also saw it sing, so I knew it really was the bird I've been hearing all over our yard.  The Warbling Vireo.

 #2 on the excitement scale was learning that both Bobolinks and Lark Buntings had taken up summer residences near our home (near as within several miles) so we've seen them much more than usual.


Here are a few of my favourite photos of the less rare birds we saw in June.

A Northern Shoveller who strayed from the usual duck behavior and didn't fly away when I approached him.

A Baltimore Oriole in our yard.
Eastern Kingbirds, also in our yard.
Horned Grebes on our stock-watering dam.
A Red-eyed Vireo on her nest in Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba.
Not a bird, but an elk. An animal that I've never seen in our part of Saskatchewan before.  But then I hadn't seen a moose either, twenty years ago.  And now they are all over.  And other people have seen cougars and bears.  Guess I may have to become a mammal watcher, too.