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Jim W

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Everything posted by Jim W

  1. I took these pictures at Devil's Den State Park in Arkansas on May 8 (yes, four months later I am still going through pictures from my cross country drive). It was dusk when I took these and the bird was backlit, so the lighting is poor. I see a hint of lighter colored lores, so my first reaction was it is a Swainson's Thrush. However, looking again, I don't see a hint of buffy wash on its face, throat or breast (although that might be a result of the poor lighting). Now I'm wondering if it might be a Gray-cheeked Thrush? Maybe the lores are just a bit worn? Thanks in advance!
  2. These pictures (all the same bird) were taken at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge on the western side of the Texas panhandle on May 6. Scaled Quail and Northern Bobwhites are found here. While walking around a trail, I saw and photographed several Scaled Quail. Inevitably, I saw them on the ground maybe 50 feet away and if I walked towards them, they simply ran away. However, on several occasions as I hiked, without warning, 1 or 2 quails would suddenly flush from cover. Maybe 20-30 feet away from me when they flushed. After the first few simply startled the crap out of me when they flushed, I started hiking with my camera up and ready to shoot. I finally managed to get a series of pictures of one of these flushing quails. I am skeptical that the species can be identified from the pictures alone. It was getting close to dusk, so the lighting was not great. The face is not showing well and because of lighting, I'm not sure the color is indicative. However, I'm wondering if the behavior might be a strong clue. I've read that Scaled Quail are much more likely to run to evade and only flush if cornered. These birds where never cornered. Northern Bobwhites on the other hand are known to sit still and then flush if you get too close. So, any thoughts on this? Can the pictures be identified? Is the flushing behavior sufficient to point to Northern Bobwhite? Thanks in advance!
  3. Took this picture at Fort Bowie National Historic Site in AZ on May 3. Head looks like maybe a Green-tailed Towhee... conspicuous reddish crown, white supraloral spot, moustachial stripe, white throat. However, the body looks more like a Canyon Towhee... doesn't show olive-green on its upperparts and maybe a wash of rust on it lower belly. The bird was back lit, so the poor lighting might be changing its look. Thanks in advance!
  4. Wildlife photography can be a very unpredictable hobby. On May 11, I saw my first Olive Sparrow at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. It was constantly hopping around in low brush. I got glimpses and heard it clearly. However, a bird only gets on my life list if I get a picture and this one was playing hard to get. I spent something like 10 minutes before I got a crappy picture that was good enough to count it on my life list. But even after all that effort, the picture still pretty much sucked. The very next day, at Estero Llano Grande State Park, an Olive Sparrow popped out by a water feature and posed nicely for the attached picture. A fraction of the effort and was a gazillion times better than the picture from the day before. Go figure...
  5. Hiking on Old Baldy, Vault Mine and Carrie Nation trails in Madera Canyon, AZ on May 1. If I'm remembering correctly, this was one of five lifers from that combined hike. It took a while to get a clear line of sight on this one!
  6. I took this picture at Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge in southern CA on April 27. I believe the only quail found there is Gambel's. This sure looks like a male Gambel's, except for the lack of cinnamon coloring on its head and flanks. Maybe leucism? Thanks in advance!
  7. Stumbled on this nest on the Sweetwater River Trail (San Diego NWR) east of San Diego on April 24. I have a couple of other pictures, but they are all very similar to this one. As I understand it, Anna's females often show a small-to-medium pinkish spot on their throats. Some Costa's females show a small purple spot. Of course, no help from color with this picture. Can species be determined by the size of the spot (or some other means)? Thanks in advance!
  8. I took these pictures at the Tijuana River Valley Bird and Butterfly Center (south of San Diego) on April 24. The two pictures are 15 minutes apart and there were a ton of birds going in and out of this particular tree, so it is very possible it is two different birds. I don't have any other pictures. Bird 1: I thought this might be a Bell's Vireo. However, I have two concerns with that. First, the bill looks too thin (but maybe that is just the angle). Second, I though the Bell's subspecies near San Diego had almost no yellow and this bird looks yellow (but maybe that is just reflection from all the flowers). So then I was thinking it might be an immature Orange-crowned Warbler. But the bill looks too long. Maybe the tail is too long as well? Bird 2: I thought this might be a Nashville Warbler. But maybe there is a hint of an eyeline. So maybe also an OC? Bird 1: Bird 2:
  9. From my trip. Hiking in Big Bend National Park, I stumbled on a Cactus Wren nest. I never approach nests, but I noticed the parents often would stop on a particular branch to scout on their way in and out of the nest (about 50 feet from the nest). I set up on this branch and was able to get some nice close shots. I ended up seeing quite a few on my trip, but this first encounter was a lifer.
  10. Another from my trip. Yellow-eyed Junco from Madera Canyon, AZ on May 1.
  11. Thanks all. I suppose this is not an exciting bird for the three of you, but for an east coaster passing through it was a lifer.
  12. Another from my cross country drive... I travel a lot, but this was the first time I ran another whatbird member. At least I think I did. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this @Seanbirds? I saw him several times during my 5 days in the Rio Grande Valley. Every time I saw him, I yelled "Yo! Seanbirds!". But all he would do is squawk at me and fly away. This particular picture of Sean was taken at Estero Llano Grande State Park.
  13. Working through my trip pictures chronologically and I have reached California (half way point). Before I left, I had assumed female hummer pics would be almost impossible to identify. But I read that female Costa's underparts are cleaner white than Anna's and these look pretty clean to me. So, I'm wondering if this one can be identified? I took these pictures at Big Morongo Canyon on April 21. Common hummers here include Anna's, Costa's and Black-chinned. By the way, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Big Morongo Canyon. I got there early in the morning when it was almost deserted and the weather was beautiful. Great place to hike and lots of wildlife. It ended up being one of my favorite stops during the week I spent in California before starting my long drive home. Thanks in advance...
  14. With all due respect @The Bird Nuts, in your first picture, I don't think your pooch is "birding". Looks more like "grocery shopping" to me. Mmmmmmm.... turkey.... 😉 Here is mine (a rescue mutt). She is getting old and the birds don't show her much respect. When she heads out into my back yard, the birds don't even fly away from the feeders. Which is nice when I am sitting out on my patio watching for migrants. She sits with me and it doesn't bother the birds in the least.
  15. I took these pictures on April 20 at Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park. It is possible they are the same bird (timestamps are 15 minutes apart). However, they look a little different to me. To me, it looks like bird 1 has a shorter primary projection and is grayer. Bird 1's eyering has me leaning towards Pacific-slope, but pics of Pac-slope online look more olive/yellow. Bird 2 looks like it has longer wings and is a little more olive/yellow. The long primaries on bird 2 have me wondering if it might be a Hammond's. These were just opportunistic pictures when I stopped to check out the view. I do not have any notes on calls or behavior. Thanks in advance! Three pictures of Bird 1: Two pictures of Bird 2:
  16. Another favorite from my cross country drive. I saw this Elegant Trogon in Cave Creek Canyon in southeast Arizona on May 3. Some people had seen a pair near the South Fork trailhead, but I wasn't so lucky. I only got my picture after 4 miles of hiking. Then again, it was a great day for hiking, so maybe I was the lucky one!
  17. Aplomado Falcon (ABA Code 3), the #1 bird on my wish list for my cross continent trip. Not an especially great picture, but I was lucky to get it in frame at all. The bird blasted past me going from left to right with a 25-30 mph tail wind to make it even faster. I've never seen an animal moving this fast, it was breathtaking. Picture was taken at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge near Brownsville, TX on April 9.
  18. This site has pretty good information on bluebirds. http://sialis.org/ Info on what you can do if one of the adults is killed. http://sialis.org/widows.htm I have regular bluebird nesters. I've never had a problem with competition from woodpeckers. Is your house sized for bluebirds? Maybe the box is large enough a woodpecker is interested in it?
  19. I don't use eBird to count/track birds (I do use hotspot data extensively to plan my trips). So, no eBird trip report. But once I get through the pictures, I'll post a summary in the trip report forum.
  20. Just back from a long drive (Pennsylvania to San Diego and back) with stops in some great birding areas. I am working through tons of pics. I'll post some of my favorites over the next few days. Here is one to start. I assume this is a rather colorful Anna's, maybe one of you west coast folks can correct me if I have that wrong. Picture was taken at Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon, Arizona.
  21. Hi all, Just back from a 6 week drive back and forth across the southern half of the continent. Going to take me weeks to get through all the pictures and I'll probably be looking for help on a few. Here is one to start. I took this picture at Davis Mountains State Park in western Texas on April 16. It looks a lot like a Chipping Sparrow (except for all the white on its head). Chipping is the most common sparrow at this location at this time of year. Is it a leucistic chipping sparrow? Thanks in advance!
  22. This thread strikes me as a great example of how "observer bias" can ultimately effect research data.
  23. Per birdsoftheworld description of Common Grackle: "Great-tailed (Q. mexicanus) and Boat-tailed (Q. major) grackles are both larger with larger tails, less metallic sheen, and different vocalizations." Having said that, the amount and color of the sheen is pretty subjective and probably is a poor field mark (especially on a single distant picture). I think I land on "Team Some Kind of Grackle".
  24. I share Bird Nut's uncertainty. The bird does seem to show a lot of color and metallic sheen which could lean towards Common Grackle. But obviously lighting and picture quality have a lot to do with the sheen. When you zoom in on the picture, it looks like its eyelid is closed. Unfortunate as eye color may have provided a clue.
  25. You should have a blast. I live in PA, but travel to Florida a couple of time each winter to escape the cold. I just got back from a 2 week trip. As many times as I've been there, I still managed to get 4 new birds this trip (Whooping Crane, Snail Kite, Crested Caracara and Piping Plover). And I only went out looking for wildlife on three days. Have fun!
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