Tag Archives: Country Birds

Uplifting moments from 2020

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Your 2020 Retrospective.’ See more responses here. Also posted in response to Becky’s January Squares challenge theme of ‘Up.’ See more responses here.

In this retrospective I’ve focused on events and photos that were uplifting for me during the difficult year that was. Most of these photos haven’t run before, but were taken at the same time as those in posts that ran in 2020. Links to the original posts are at the end of the captions.

The owl who was God

When I took this photo, I was thinking of the James Thurber short story, “The Owl Who Was God,” which can be read here. The main differences between that story and this photo are that pueos have very good eyesight during daylight hours, which is when they’re active, and no animals were harmed in the taking of this photo. The bird flew away shortly after I took it. He does have that look though.

Io flying

There are two kinds of endemic birds of prey in Hawaii. One is the pueo, the Hawaiian short-eared owl. I see these birds on a regular basis, particularly while driving on Old Saddle Road. Search for ‘pueo’ on this blog and you’ll find a raft of photos.

The other endemic bird of prey is the Io or Hawaiian hawk. Search for ‘io’ on this blog and you’ll find a post with the letters ‘i’ and ‘o’ in the title. That’s because I rarely see these birds. I sometimes see them circling high above, scouting for prey, but not where a photo could be taken. And once, an io landed in the yard when it snagged a small rodent. My wife saw this; I was in the bathroom. By the time I emerged, the bird was gone.

So this photo, while not exactly stellar, is a first for me. Again this was a bird circling above the neighborhood. I tried to get photos, but as they tend to do, this one drifted away out of sight. I went round to the other side of the house, hoping to spot it again, and was surprised to see it again, not only gliding back in my general direction, but losing altitude as it did so.

I snapped a few photos before it dipped below the tree line and disappeared for good, and I was happy to get this shot with the sun illuminating the wing and the distinctive beak also prominent.

Posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.

Pueo stare

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Capturing a Feeling.’ See more responses here.

A fair number of my photos of perched pueos (Hawaiian short-eared owls) show the birds giving me a scowling look of disapproval. This one has a bit of that, but there’s also a look of astonishment. If I had to give this bird a speech bubble, it would be something along the lines of, ‘He took my picture. He didn’t even ask. The nerve.’

I like this photo for two additional reasons. One is that single, visible curved talon resting on the post. Easy to imagine the effect of that on some unfortunate rodent. The second reason is the eyes. Notice anything about them?

Also posted in response to Becky’s July Squares challenge theme of ‘Perspective.’ See more responses here.

Dawn chorus

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Awakening.’ See more offerings here.

Around here, awakening is usually courtesy of the dawn chorus. That occurs when the birds themselves awaken and announce to the world that they made it through the night. Pretty much every bird species that lives within earshot takes part, but there are some standouts.

Roosters (above) are the traditional greeter of the new day and that’s true here, though it has to be noted that they’re equally likely to sound off at any time of the day or night. This neighborhood used to be rooster-free for several years. Then one wandered in from across the road and now there are several in the vicinity. One in particular keeps trying to make my yard part of its territory. I am resolved to prevent this.

Gray francolins (right) are smaller than roosters but might be even louder. Their call has a little wind up before soaring to full screech. It gets people’s attention at any time of day, but at 5:30 in the morning it’s more effective than mainlining caffeine.

The northern cardinal (below) is a smaller bird still but, from its typically high perch, its variety of powerfully-sung songs tend to ride over everything. But rest assured, the other birds contribute, from the red-billed leiothrix, to Japanese white-eyes, to an assortment of finches, they make sure that I’m up to greet the sunrise, whether I want to or not.

Cattle and egrets

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Odd Couples.’ See more responses here.

It’s common to see cattle egrets in the company of cattle and yet they still make an odd pairing – the bulky, stolid cow or bull and the slender, flighty cattle egret. The benefits for the cattle egret are clear. They catch insects and other prey disturbed by the grazing cattle (or horse, sheep, goat, etc.). But they also remove flies and ticks from the cattle themselves, which also benefits the cattle.

The cattle also don’t seem to mind being used as a perch. I imagine the egret above giving directions: ‘take a left up ahead buddy.’ The one in the middle is switching allegiances. Below, gotta find someplace with a view when in the tall grasses.

Birds in a row

This week sees the return of the Friendly Friday challenge with a theme of ‘All in a Row.’ See more responses here.

I’ve plumped for some bird photos. Above, a trio of common myna birds stand on a railing looking severe, as they always do. Middle, wild turkeys form two lines, as if they’re performing some kind of dance routine. Below, African silverbills perch on a fence overlooking the ocean.