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Old Jun 11, 2004, 6:29 PM   #1
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Today I saw and heard a lot of these guys in the oakbrush and mountain mahogany shrublands on the Grand Mesa in Western Colorado. The Spotted Towhee was formerly called the rufous sided towhee and before that, the red-eyed towhee, all apt names.

Note the leaves on the Gambel oak are wilted and dead, a result of a deep frost late in the spring. The killing frost will also limit the production of acorns, an important food for many animals.

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Old Jun 11, 2004, 11:08 PM   #2
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Good grief, Hummer, this is fantastic work! What a great looking bird, it's beak reminds me of the red winged or yellow headed blackbird, but it's red eyes are spectacular! And the surrounding colors, sharpness, absolutely everything is superb. You are milking all of the gold out of that camera, great job!

I must also mention the background blur. Wow, what wonderful color.
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Old Jun 12, 2004, 2:46 AM   #3
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This is a very nice shot. The only thing that bothers me about it is that it looks like there is a chunk carved out of the posterior portion of the towhee's lower mandible...
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Old Jun 12, 2004, 12:31 PM   #4
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Very nice!

Thanks for sharing such a great picture and giving the description of the bird which is very interesting.
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Old Jun 12, 2004, 9:01 PM   #5
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The notch at the base of the lower mandible is strange isn't it? It is part of a grand design for many birds to more efficiently hold seeds and insect prey. In some birds the tongue is similarly shaped with a deep notch at the back and barbs along the length to secure and pull in insects. Most folks see birds with their bills closed, grasping food or nesting material, and not so often while they are singing. Since I bird more by ear than by sight, capturing photos of birds in song is one of my goals. When birds sing, their whole body quivers furiously so stopping the action requires high shutter speeds and limits depth of field. I got lucky on this one.

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Old Jun 12, 2004, 9:15 PM   #6
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Now that's a little factoid I didn't know about, the notch at the base of the lower mandible. Very neat. I don't remember learning that one in my ornithology classes or else after 30 years my memory is already failing :-)

Thanks, Hummer!
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