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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pic of the Day

Kirtland's Warbler, Setophaga Kirtlandii:  Jack Pine forest near Grayling, Michigan
     The Kirtland’s Warbler is one of the most endangered birds in North America.   I photographed this Male Kirtland's on it breeding grounds near Grayling, Michigan.  Males vigorously defend their breeding territory throughout the breeding season with a bold, distinctive song that is sung from the highest perches in its territory.  Its vociferous song makes the male an easy bird to find.
(Hear the Kirtland’s song here: http://birds.audubon.org/birds/kirtlands-warbler)
     One of the best ways to get up close and personal with the Kirtland’s is to join one of the many tours out of Mio, and Grayling, Michigan.  I was on a tour out of Grayling when I took this shot.  The Michigan Audubon employs a seasonal guide to lead Kirtland's Warbler tours.  Michigan Audubon works in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  All the guides that I have met, or been on tours with are very experienced birders and very knowledgeable about the Kirtland’s and its conservation.
(Learn more about the tours here: http://www.michiganaudubon.org/kirtlandswarbler.html

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/1000 second @ f5.6

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pic of the Day


Black-capped Chickadee, Poecile articapillus, Jack Pine forest; Mio, Michigan
     I was driving around the Jack Pine forest of Mio, Michigan looking for Kirtland's Warblers when I found the nest of this Black-capped Chickadee.  I was driving along one of the logging roads when I just happened to see this chickadee fly into a hole in a jack pine.  I immediately stopped, and backed-up to where I had seen the bird.  The nest hole was in a 4-inch diameter jack pine that was leaning about 30 degrees off the vertical.
     It was not long before I saw the chickadee fly to the nest with insects in its beak.  I quickly moved the van into a position that would allow me to use it as a blind.  No sooner had I aimed the camera at the nest, the chickadee alighted on a branch just above the nest entrance with a beak full of insect larva.  I took a few dozen shots and then left the chickadee to it nesting duties.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/100 second @ f7.1

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pic of the Day

Pyrrhuloxia, Cardinalis sinuatus (male): Catalina State Park; Tucson, Arizona
     The Pyrrhuloxia, a desert species, is a member of the family cardinalidae.  It has a similar song and similar behavior to that of the Northern Cardinal, which is a close relative.  The range of the Pyrrhuloxia and Northern Cardinal overlap in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  The Pyrrhuloxia however prefers upland desert, mesquite savannas, riparian woodlands, and desert scrublands habitat while the Northern Cardinal perfers wetter habitat.  Like the Northern Cardinal, the Pyrrhuloxia has a crest, and is the same size, but there is where the visual simularities end.  The Pyrrhuloxia has a pale, thick, curvaceous bill, and its over all color is gray (male) with red in its face, underside, and wings.  The female is overall grayish with very little red. 

     Pyrrhuloxia feed primarily on seeds and insects.  They use their strong curved bills to crush mesquite beans, of which they are particularly fond.  They lay 3 to 4 white, speckled brown eggs in a loosely woven grass, twig, and bark nest built in thorny buses.


Click this link to hear the call of the Pyrrhuloxia:  http://birds.audubon.org/birds/pyrrhuloxia
and this link to learn more about its life history:

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/1250 second @ f 8

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pic of the Day

Northern Gannet, Morus bassanus:  Bonaventure Island; Perce', Quebec
     This Northern Gannet soaring along the cliffs of Bonaventure Island shows off its sleek fuselage like body that makes it a great diver.  The aerodynamic form is perfectly adapted to slip beneath the oceans waves to catch its prey.  The Gannet rises to great heights then turns head first toward the water. As it slips below the surface it barely cause the oceans waters to splash.  Looking out from the seaward side of Bonaventure Island thousands of Gannets can be seen falling from the sky into the sea.  Thousands of Gannets, falling like rain, is one of the great spectacles of nature to behold.

Nikon D300, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, 1/640 second @ f9

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pic of the Day

Northern Gannet, Morus bassanus (4th year bird):  Bonaventure Island; Perce', Quebec

     Gannets and Boobies are world wide birds.  They live on and around the oceans of the world from the North Atlantic to Australia, across the Indian Ocean to South Africa.  All Gannets and Boobies are gregarious, and all nest in colonies on small islands.  When not on nesting grounds, Gannets roost at sea, and Boobies roost primarily on land.
     Both Gannets and Boobies are diving birds. They feed by plunging head first, from heights of 50 feet or more, and plunge at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour into the water.  Once underwater they use their wings to swim, chase fish and return to the surface to take flight.
     The old Cornish name for the Gannet is “Saithor”, which means “arrow”.   The name could not be more appropriate.  Watching a flock of Gannets fall from the sky is like watching an entire quiver of arrows being plunged into the sea.
     This Northern Gannet was photographed as it soared over the seaward cliffs of Bonaventure Island off the coast of Perce', Quebec.  The remnant black secondary wing feathers indicate that this is a 4th year bird.

To learn more about the Northern Gannet go to:

http://birds.audubon.org/birds/northern-gannet

To learn more about Gannets and Boobies go to: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulidae

Nikon D300, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, 1/800 second @ f9