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Posts posted by smittyone@cox.net

  1. This adult Red-tailed Hawk was seen in SW Iowa yesterday morning.  Despite the unusually warm February weather, we continue to have more Western and Northern RTHAs in my Eastern NE/Western IA/NW Missouri birding region.  Throughout most of the year, our predominant RTHA is the Eastern, but during winter we get our share of vagabonds--Northern, Western, and Harlan's.  On this particular bird, I'm kind of torn between Western and Northern, leaning towards Northern.  Sorry, I don't have any full frontal views.




  2. Thanks everyone.  That's my first Longspur, and two Lifer's in one day!  I was so stoked at finding my first Snow Buntings, I honestly didn't pay much attention to anything else.  Really wished I'd noticed the Longspur, so I could've tried focusing on it.  Stupid tunnel vision.  Now that I have a confirmed photo, this bird will be added to my "need better pics" list.

    • Like 6
  3. This bird is part of the same group I originally posted. It's unquestionably an adult female.  If bird No. 1 is a non-breeding male, and bird Nos. 2 and 3 fall somewhere in between bird No. 1 and bird No. 4, would that make them immature males?  I'm assuming a non-breeding and an immature bird are not one and the same.


  4. This quartet of Trumpeter Swans were seen last week in NW Missouri.  Are all 4 of them cygnets?  I know adult Trumpeter Swans are not always pure white.  Their feathers can be stained depending on their food source.  But that staining is generally limited to their head and neck.  The flight feathers on at least 3 of these birds are darker, leading me to believe at least 3 of them are immature birds.  Follow-up question--are young swans called cygnets all the way up until they're adults, or only until they grow flight feathers? 


  5. When I say No Bueno to calling them all non-breeding adults, I mean that I'm personally against lumping them ALL that way when I report them.  If I can identify their sex, then I'll try to do that.  If I cannot determine their sex, then I'm fine with calling them non-breeding adults. This is only my personal preference, and the way I try to report birds that I photograph.  Of course everyone else can report them as they like.  

    • Like 3
  6. Yesterday I encountered three different large flocks of Horned Larks in western Iowa.  Each flock also had a sizeable number of Snow Buntings embedded within them.  This is a new lifer bird for me (Yeah!).  I understand this time of year, I'm likely to only see non-breeding males and non-breeding females.  According to Cornel Labs "All About Birds", my primary go-to site for bird ID, non-breeding males are white below, with rusty patches on the head, "ear", and shoulders.  Its back is dark and streaky.  Non-breeding females are white below, with rusty patches on the head, "ear", and chest.  The back is dark with rusty streaks.  When the flock takes off together, it's easy to tell them apart.  On the ground however, I'm having a tough time differentiating them.  It's unlikely that every one I photographed are all males or all females.  Are there other features I'm missing, or am I looking too hard.  Calling them all non-breeding adults is no bueno.   





    • Like 4
  7. I can identify immature Northern Harriers when their breasts are buffy and devoid of any streaking.  But on many occasions I've come across buffy breasted individuals who have moderate streaking, and sometimes even blotchy breasts.  These "in between" birds I've been calling immature/adult female.  Are you saying any amount of streaking makes it an adult female?  And I rarely get images clear enough to positively identify eye color.

  8. This adult male Northern Cardinal was seen in NW Missouri a few days ago.  I noticed while editing photos today that he had a greyish back.  Is he molting?  Or is this something else?  I know it's not light refracting off his feathers since it was overcast.  I don't recall noticing this on other Cardinals I've photographed over the years.


  9. If I come upon a bird and I'm already close, I grab the camera first.  But if it's far away, I grab the binoculars first.  Although my camera has much better reach, the binoculars have a wider field of view, making it easier to find the bird.  With the camera, sometimes it's like finding something by looking through a straw.  The binoculars also have a brighter view in lower light conditions.  The camera requires settings changes to make the view bright enough under those conditions. The binoculars also allow one handed use.  I can never do that with my camera.

    • Like 4
  10. I've already stated I'm a photographer first.  But I have to admit, through that hobby, I'm becoming a birder.  When my backyard feeders no longer inspired me, I began to expand my search area, actively looking for something different besides "feeder birds"  Once I photographed my first Bald Eagle, I was hooked.  Now I actively seek out birds (particularly any raptor), and always try to get better photos of birds I've already photographed.  Then I made a list...

    I think if you keep a bird list, you're automatically a birder.  

    • Like 3
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