Monday, November 12, 2007

It's always a good day when you see an eagle

Did you know that Bald Eagles are one of the few birds found in all states? Maybe not Hawaii...I'll have to check on that. They nest here in Louisiana in the winter. An eagle is always an impressive sight. I saw this one down at the river by the Vet School right near the LSU campus. He perched and posed and then headed off upriver. A little later a younger bird flew by, scanning the river for fish.

Bald Eagle at the river

Sunday, November 11, 2007

There aren't many cuter birds...

Can you find the bird in this picture?? The Winter Wren is a tee-nincy little bird. Most wrens are ground dwellers and this one is no exception. If you think you see a mouse and it turns out to be a bird, it could be a Winter Wren. This one was enjoying itself at Bluebonnet Swamp last Sunday.

Winter Wren at Bluebonnet Swamp

We don't get much of a fall here, so we have to enjoy any spots of color we can find...
This beautiful flower is a form of orchid called "Lady's Tresses" and it grows wild in the swamp...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cool Birds you can find around Baton Rouge

This month's Birding with the Family class was entitled "More than Wal-mart Birds" or.... "Cool Birds you can find in/around Baton Rouge". The turnout for the class was light, only 5 folks, and no kids :-( But it was fun nonetheless. Keri and I "tag-teamed" the material, which worked out well. But the pressure was on for the field trip... With a title like "Cool Birds" I was pretty much under the gun to show these folks some cool birds! So we started down at the roost at City Park lake at dawn. Had a good showing... Great Blue Herons, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, and even a Green Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron to boot! Then we went to Bluebonnet Swamp. John H. was there to let us in early and also show us where the owls hang out. He's seen two Barred Owls hanging out consistently (Barbara and ??) and the Great-Horned Owl he's nicknamed "Harvey". Unfortunately, Harvey didn't show up, but Barbara showed up for us and posed for quite a few pictures. Nice!

The annual Big Sit

From The website: "THE BIG SIT! is like a Big Day, or a bird-a-thon in that the object is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours. The simplicity of the concept makes The Big Sit! so appealing. Find a good spot for bird watching -- preferably one with good views of a variety of habitats and lots of birds. Next you create a real or imaginary circle 17 feet in diameter and sit inside the circle for 24 hours, counting all the bird species you see or hear. That's it. Find a spot, sit in it, have fun."

So, we did :-)

Justin and Devin Eby-Bosler have done the Big Sit for the past 2 years in Baton Rouge close to the banks of the Mississippi River. This year they had the most participants, but unfortunately the lowest number of birds. Still it was great weather, and good birding company, so a worthwhile effort. There were some new birds this year, which is always fun.

Look, I actually got a picture of Lainie with her bins in her hand!
For a full report of the day, including a list of the 75 species we saw, visit:

Justin, Devin, Richard, Lainie, Lindsay, Harriett, and Sue -- Let's do it again next year!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Backyard visitor

Yesterday my dad commented that our backyard was like a Disney movie...all the little animals romping and cavorting in (nearly) perfect harmony. Well today would have been the arrival of the wicked witch. I opened the door to a quiet yard and then movement caught my eye. Cooper's or Sharp-shinned...I'm not sure which...but this hawk was after the happy little creatures in the yard. It made several attempts to get the squirrels, but didn't get one while I was watching. Quite an impressive bird...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Kinda gross, but...

Recently at the Hummingbird and Butterfly festival, the speaker explained that butterflies that congregate on mudholes to glean minerals they need to reproduce. While birding at a place on the river, I came across these butterflies doing what I assume was the same kind of gleaning on some coyote scat. Kinda gross but interesting...

Back to the river...

Went back to the river to another location...also a sand/silt place but farther down toward St. Gabriel. Birding friend Sue Broussard knows the owner. It's a large property, quite overgrown at the moment as it's not a working dirt concern at the moment. Roads were hard to find at times, overgrown with grasses. It was also pretty muddy from the previous day's rain--and let me tell you, river silt makes a really sticky mud! We thought the birding would be excellent as there has been little human intervention in months, but it was rather slow. We had a nice group of Wood Storks - I think we counted 32 in all. Also came across a Nashville Warbler and a group of a dozen or so Yellow Warblers. Lots of Indigo Buntings in their drab brown fall garb, and lots of Painted Buntings, but no males today to ooh and ah over. Sue did have her hair parted by a Barred Owl, so that was kind of exciting!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ever wonder how a hummingbird takes a bath?

I've created a hummer perch outside my kitchen window for the hummingbirds to sit on and guard the nearby feeders. Today it rained a bit as the fizzling tropical depression passed over. I looked out and saw this hummer bathing in the rain as it perched on the twig -- it sure looked like it was enjoying itself!

Hum Bathing

(sorry about the football soundtrack in the background...the LSU game was on, what can I say??)

Local birding @ Richfield Riversilt

Decided to try for migrant warblers on the river front this morning. Not much luck. Best birds were 6 WOOD STORKS flying over and a beautiful male Painted Bunting (obviously video wasn't taken today, but I can't pass up an opportunity to show it off :-)). Ruby-throats fighting over lantana! South end of property has lots of standing water -- enough that a couple of fisherman were trying their luck. Few shorebirds present. North end of property was VERY overgrown. I pushed through the giant ragweed and emerged covered in yellow pollen--definitely not recommended for those with allergies! Got a nice video of a Northern Waterthrush -- Sibley's Eastern Field Guide nailed this
description. It was seen foraging near standing water and its tail was pumping to beat the band: Long version or Shorter version

Took Ben Hur on the way home. Had another Wood Stork flyover there. Also observed 3 Am. Crows lunching on what appeared to be a juv. Bluebird :-(

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Hawks vs the Crows

So my thought was that I'd start a website and maintain that instead of updating this blog. However, what I've found is that even tho I like the website and want to have for basically static information, I still need an easy way to give updates. Blogger is easier than the website update process. So...I think I'll maintain this blog and link the two together.

On that note...there's no way I can catch up with all the birding events of the past 5 or 6 months. Instead, I'll just start fresh.

Last weekend I went to Hooper Road park in Baton Rouge (a BREC park in Central, which is in north Baton Rouge near the Airport). The park has horse trails! I don't think they're used much, but it was neat to see. Also has bike trails and one labeled walking trail but I really couldn't find that one. The park also has a rec center and a couple of baseball or softball diamonds. I bet they're used, but not at 7am on a Sat. When I emerged from a trail in the woods, I noticed movement near the ball fields. The ball fields are back to back with bleachers that are back to back as well. On one side of the bleachers sat a half dozen crows. On the other bleachers sat two best guess is young Cooper's Hawks. They weren't quite as large as the crows....but they decided they wanted to eat crow! The'd fly over into the mess of crows, who would barely dodge out of the way, occasionally flying up in small circles to avoid the hawks. The hawk would land, sometimes right to the crows, and then try again. If I can anthromorphize a bit, the crows looked either bored or patronizingly amused at the effort of the hawks....and there were no feathers flying! The young hawks caught sight of a fox squirrel, and oh boy they're on it. It managed to elude them first by going to the back side of a telephone pole (where did he go? where did he go?) and when it got back on the ground, it went on teh other side of the chain link fence of the ball field. The hawks flew into and landed on the face of the fence a couple of times trying to figure out how to get to the squirrel. They finally gave up and went back to harrassing the crows. An adult Red-Shouldered Hawk came in at one point to see what was going made a lazy pass at the crows once or twice and then gave up and moved on.

I did take video, but I was some distance away so I'm not sure what you'll be able to tell. I didn't get too close for fear of upsetting the interaction. It was an amusing exchange and certainly made my day!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Little Ruf and the Stranger

Every day I hang around the kitchen window from about 6:45 to 7:45 both am and pm waiting for my little Rufous to show. This evening as I was preparing dinner I looked out on the perching branches above the feeder and there was a stranger there. A green-backed stranger. I grabbed the binoculars and got a bead on back all right, but didn't have the emerald quality of a ruby-throat. And then he turned his head...gorget not fully developed...and a flash of pink! pepto-bismol in a pink paint mark! I was remarking all of this out loud to my husband and the words, "he had better watch out because the Ruffie is coming" no sooner came out of my mouth when SLAM the Rufous came down on the pink-marked bird and knocked it off the perch. I was looking through the binoculars at the time, and it was pretty spectacular! The Ruffie went to the feeder like he owned the place and then flit! he was gone. A few minutes later I saw a very skittish pink-marked stranger at the front yard feeder. He ate and then hid in the middle of the crape-myrtle tree. A mature male ruby-throat showed up at the feeder, but pink-mark didn't even challenge him, he just stayed hidden.

Here's a shot of Ruffie extracted from the video...unfortunately from the back as he sat at the feeder

And a bit of video of the stranger as he hides. If anyone's missing a pink-marked bird let me know!I couldn't tell which leg he's banded on, but maybe he'll be here tomorrow

Click here to see the Stranger

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The cutest couple

Downy woodpeckers have become regulars at my suet feeders over the past year. But it was a special treat to have a pair of them, male and female, at the feeder recently. I presume they are nesting in the area, because they visit regularly, often together. That may change when the babies come!

See the cute couple by clicking here

A crown fit for a King...let

The Ruby-Crowned Kinglet is a common bird around here during the winter. They're tiny birds and they flit around so quickly they are hard to see with binoculars, much less with a camera. And most of the time it's hard to tell why they are called "ruby-crowned" because there's not sign of any red at all. Their crowns become apparent when they get riled or agitated.

I got really lucky and was able to keep the kinglet in view long enough to get some great close-ups, AND he's got his crown up!

Ruby-crowned kinglet flits and displays

Long time, no see!

Well, I've had at least 3 people tell me they missed updates to my blog, and I realized it's been MONTHS since I updated here's some stuff!

I just reviewed the videos I've taken over the past few months. I don't think I'm necessarily going to post them in order...I'll just tell a bit about each one as we go...

This outstanding video was from a lucky day at Bluebonnet Swamp. I arrived before 7am for the monthly Bird Walk, but the gates were closed. Two other ladies, Janet and Jennifer, were there, so we decided we weren't going to let a closed gate stop us. We used the "east entrance" and made our way down the boardwalk. As we came to the main boardwalk, two gentleman were there putting away their cameras. They told us about a Barred Owl that had been posing for them just off the boardwalk. He'd hunted, posed, preened...they had so many great pictures they were packing it in and going home, cuz it couldn't get any better. We were so sad we missed it... they moved out, we moved on...and then lo and behold...there he was again!

Here he is, in all his swively head glory

Click here to see the Barred Owl hunting and preening

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Had a Buff-bellied treat today!

I missed the Winter Hummer Tour last weekend. One of the homes featured a Buff-bellied Hummingbird, which is one of the birds I have yet to get a good video of. Tried last year but had little luck. This bird was rumored to be cooperative, and I'll have to agree! Took me about an hour to get reasonably close, but I'm pleased with the results. Many thanks to the Hansens for letting me hang out in their yard today!

The Buffy obviously has some favorite perches, so I tried to blend in and ease close. This video was the end result of about an hour and a half of effort and is from the last set I was able to get. He seemed to have relaxed and allowed me to get within about six feet. I love this shot where you can see the bright green flash of his gorget.

Flash o'green

The bird obviously had a Guardian Squirrel -- this little booger called the alarm for the whole hour I was out there! What's cool is that you can hear the Buffy talking too -- he makes a click, click, click and a squeak. And then of course he'll cuss when he's defending the feeder -- although he didn't have much competition today. The Hansens have a Calliope visitor too and he snuck in a couple of times for a sip -- the size difference between the birds was pretty amazing!

Buffy Talk

At one point he got aggravated with me I think and ducked down into some low cover to hide. I was persistent though. I didn't think these shots would come out as well as they did since I had to shoot through the twigs and sometimes that fools the auto-focus eye of the camera. But the colors were especially nice at this angle.

Buffy in a tangle

And here's another action shot...just 'cause

Action shot

What fun!