Feed the birds

A black-crowned night heron tries to eat a tilapia
A house finch eats tree heliotrope fruit

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Feed the Birds.’ See more responses here.

In the top photo, this ambitious juvenile black-crowned night heron snaffled a tilapia from a large backyard pond. However, that was the easy part. I watched it for quite a while, trying to swallow the fish. It flew from the pond into a tree, then on to another one, before returning to the ground beyond some rocks. The fish was still in its beak, but no closer to reaching its stomach.

In the middle photo, a house finch chows down on the fruit of a tree heliotrope (Tournefortia argentea).

In the bottom photo, a palila feeds on a mamane (Sophora chrysophylla) seed pod. Typically, a palila will grab a pod from one place and then take it to another branch to eat it. It pins the green, immature seed pod to the branch, as in this photo, and then bashes away at it with its powerful beak. The seeds are poisonous, but palilas have developed an immunity to the toxins. The brown pods in this photo won’t be eaten by palilas. They will remain on the tree for a long time before dropping and hopefully producing more trees, though mamane seeds have quite low propagation rates.

A palila eats a mamane seed pod

24 thoughts on “Feed the birds

    1. Graham Post author

      I don’t think bird feeders are too common here. There’s no winter season when the birds need a little help. I’ve been thrilled with my palila photos since the bird is very much an endangered species.

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      1. naturebackin

        I tend to think its better to plant suitably for birds and insects etc than to feed artificially, when at all possible.
        I have just read a bit about the palila – very interesting – and have a better insight into just how endangered they are. It must be a thrill just to see them and an added bonus to be able to photograph them too.

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        1. Graham Post author

          After I saw my first palilas, I did a post about them, and I remember noting how sobering it was to be able to see their entire range and entire territory from where I was.

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  2. Marsha

    Beautiful photos and interesting facts to go with them. Did the poor young black-crowned night heron ever get to finish his meal? We saw a heron on our walk in Prescott a couple of days ago, but it was no youngster judging by the size of it. Have a great week, Graham.

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    1. Graham Post author

      This juvenile was adult sized, but it still had the immature plumage. I’m not sure what happened in the end but I suspect the heron gave up and dumped the fish. I think it realized that if it started swallowing the fish there was no stopping, not with those spines on the dorsal fin.

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  3. Pingback: #Sunday Stills: Feeding Birds in Australia – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write

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