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Old Jan 23, 2010, 1:15 AM   #1
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Default Local Winter Birds (lots of imgs)

This morning arrived with blue skies. The clouds moved in several hours later with more snow, but for a while the birds took advantage of the short dry spell.

A neighbor a couple of blocks away has a couple of bird feeders that he keeps stocked, but they didn't look much different than this bird house across the street:

So he tossed birdseed out on his driveway (that hadn't yet been shoveled from the several inches of overnight snow). It was interesting to watch the birds - they were in constant motion. If something disturbed them (like me walking by) they would all take off. Then the small birds would venture back:

House finches, chickadees, juncos, and are the brown ones female finches or??? I'm still pretty clueless about birds - though hanging around here I've learned quite a bit.

After a bit larger birds moved in, like the scrub jays. These bold birds are perfectly happy to pose.

Finally, the very shy quail moved in.

When I first happened upon this spot I was out taking general snow pictures and only had the DA*50-135. The quail picture was taken with it, then I walked back to the house and picked up the DA*300. By the time I got back, the quail had taken off and didn't return.

I still had a great time watching the birds enjoying the feast. And I managed some individual shots:

House finch:


I think this is a Rufous-Sided Towhee. I've never really noticed them before.

As I was leaving, this dove (?) arrived, checking out the activity before deciding to join the crowd. While the smaller birds left when the quail arrived, they pretty much ignored the dove.

And I can never resist taking pictures of the Brewer's Blackbirds. There are lots of them that live here year-round and they can always be found like this:

There are two types of Jays that are common to our area. While the Scrub Jay will pose for you and are easy to photograph, the Steller's Jay is much shyer and I never get good pictures of them. They didn't join the feast - I saw several on my walk, but always up in trees and flitting around. This was the best shot of several I took, so I thought I would share it.

It started to cloud over when I got back to the house. I heard some tapping, and managed to spot this fellow. Normally I never see woodpeckers - they are always on the other side of the tree no matter what I do. I think this is a Williamson's Sapsucker, but only because I thought it looked like the picture in my book. The map in my guide seemed to indicate our area might be barely within it's range.

If anyone has a better ID any of these birds, let me know.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 10:30 AM   #2
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Awesome images....Looks like you're giving Mole a good run for his money!
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 11:39 AM   #3
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Those are some nice sharp shots Harriet, great job.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 2:03 PM   #4
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House finches, chickadees, juncos, and are the brown ones female finches or??? I'm still pretty clueless about birds - though hanging around here I've learned quite a bit.
Nice variety of birds, well photographed under those difficult lighting conditions. Your IDs are fine (you can no longer claim to be clueless!) except in the first group photo: Adult and one juvenile White-crowned Sparrows, 2 Juncos, one OOF R-S Towhee, male and female (brown with streaks underneath) House Finches, female (also brown, but no streaks) House Sparrows, but no Chickadees that I could see.

The Quail are California Quail (You could have Mountain Quail where you are, too, but not in this picture).

The dove is a non-native Ring-necked Dove.

I have never photographed birds in the snow, so I don't know how well it would work, but you like to experiment, so try fill flash to put a catch light in their eyes.

One good thing about this storm keeping you home is that it has brought out the bird photographer in you. Keep up the good work, and let's see more.
If life brings you lemons, you can make lemonade.

Last edited by penolta; Jan 23, 2010 at 2:34 PM.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 3:40 PM   #5
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Some wonderful photos of some great birds - glad your weather system is bringing you the birds, and the time to enjoy them!
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 4:38 PM   #6
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thanks for sharing.

i really like the house finch and junco shots. sharp, good isolation from shallow dof.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 5:36 PM   #7
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You done did good Harriet!
We'll make a birder pot of you yet.

Sorry you missed the Quayle with the 300, I would have liked to have seen that. Keep up the good work.

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Old Jan 23, 2010, 8:29 PM   #8
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Nice shots Harriet. The Towhee is my favorite. We do not get this one back here, wish we did. Nice detail and eye clarity.

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Old Jan 23, 2010, 11:03 PM   #9
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Thanks for the compliments!

And thanks, Penolta for the ID - all this time I thought I was looking at chickadees and they were really Sparrows (I think I've seen real Mountain Chickadees when hiking in the summer, but now I'm not sure at all). Thanks for the correction, they seem to be very common up here (as are the House Finches). Also thanks for the ID on the females - I'm not very good at telling all them apart.

The dove is interesting - that's what I thought it looked like, but my guide, dated 1990, indicated that they are found in parks in L.A. From that I thought it unlikely that any would make their way up this mountain, so figured that I was missing something.

All of the quail I've seen around here are California Quail. They are actually pretty birds, but I rarely get pictures of them. I see them often, running across roads or scampering away, but rarely manage pictures of them. They look pretty plain when they are in motion, it's only when they are still or in pictures that you realize how pretty they really are.

Now that I know about my neighbor's habit of feeding all winter, I'll try to make more morning visits to his yard. It was fun to watch the dynamics between species.
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Old Jan 24, 2010, 7:47 PM   #10
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Very nicely done, Harriet. The quail brought back memories of my grandfather as he used to raise them in his backyard in L.A.

It was actually warm today (well, above 35) and I'm disappointed I didn't take advantage and go out. I have a roll of film in my camera I really want to finish up and develop (it's b&w). And, I don't think I've taken anything digital in weeks now. But, coming back here and checking out what's been going on is inspiring me.

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