Friday, March 21, 2008

Peeking at a Woodpecker

One of my birding friends, Patti, sent me some fabulous pics of a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers that she found building a nest hole. She said the tree was very near the road and it might provide a good video opportunity.

We headed over there last Sunday morning. It was a great morning, cool and bright, and the birds were singing wonderfully. We found the spot and sure enough, there was the woodpecker, busy making the hole. Patti said that a few days previous the entrance hole wasn't even large enough for these birds to enter and now the bird was completely hidden inside! Obviously these are birds on a mission! We only saw one while we were there, and believe it was the male. He'd peck, peck, peck inside the hole and then spend several minutes tossing out wood shavings..ptooey. Seems like he'd need to stop and eat or at least take a water break, but he kept right at it.

The videos are a bit shaky as I was using lots of zoom and shooting with the video camera held up to the scope, which is hard to do and keep in the right place. Still, it's fun to see him up close as he works.

I'm going to try something new and upload the video to and link to it there. Let's see how this works...

First-of-Season Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The first male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird of the season visited my yard this year on March 8. He's all shiny and new, ready to impress the lady-birds! There's at least one female Rufous still around. I saw her sitting at the feeder this afternoon and he came up and challenged her. She just looked over her shoulder at him, shrugged, and kept on eating. Obviously there will be no hybridizing going on here :-)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Kissing Kestrels

Back in May of '06, I was in my office on the 11th floor of a building in downtown Baton Rouge when a movement caught the corner of my eye. It turned out to be a juvenile Kestrel (click there to see the blog entry) eating a house sparrow on my window sill! We got to watch him consume the whole bird, feathers, toenails and all. Last year I noticed the adult pair had returned but didn't see fledglings. This year, at the end of February, I noticed the pair was back.

They hang on out the antenna of a couple of buildings in downtown BTR, one of which is the building I work in. Because they are small birds, and far overhead, I'm sure they're not noticed by the folks on the street. However they can certainly distract me when I'm in a meeting on the 12th floor and one flies up and over!

Last Friday, when I left work, since I happened to have my camera and scope in the car, I decided to try to get some pictures. The parking garage is right next to one of the buildings that they regularly use. This put me perhaps 30-40 yards from the birds. I was able to observe them very well in the scope. In the hour that I watched, the male gathered four lizards for his lady bird and fed them to her. By the time, she got to the 4th (and perhaps there were others before that) she was full and just hung on the lizard for later.

Here are links to video of the Kestrels.

The first is a longer version which shows some close and longer range shots. The second is a shorter version which is more focused on the birds toward the end of the photo session (complete with lizard).

All of this is made even more interesting by the fact that American Kestrels are not supposed to nest this far south in Louisiana. I'll be looking for the nest in downtown BTR...maybe I'll be able to document the fledglings progress...