Saturday, March 31, 2012

Flower Faces

Laughing Duck
What face do you see?
The Singer

Eyes closed, tongue's out

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Meet Mini Cooper the new bird in town.

A juvenile Cooper's Hawk prowls near a golf course in the neighborhood.  He entertained us this afternoon.

What to name a young bird?  Gary Cooper or Mini Cooper?  

Mini Cooper depicts a hawk's body type and speed.  
Yes, the eyes share a similar intensity . . . .

Gary, we'll honor you when naming a mature Cooper's Hawk.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Harriette the Hummingbird Architect

  • Harriette, a master architect, designed her home in our Brazilian pepper tree. Created with a variety of leaves, plant bits, and dryer fluff selected from the neighborhood, it floats above our driveway .  
    Wrapping materials with spiderwebs keeps them bound and attached to the branch.  
    To blend it in with the pepper tree, Harriette added materials similar to the location's color. 
    Harriette engineered her nest by pressing materials into shape with her body and chin. Sitting inside the nest, she created curves and used her feet to mold the walls. She stomped to make the nest bottom sturdy then thickened the wind side to protect baby hummingbirds from weather. Thinner sides of the nest keep the babies cool during warmer days by allowing air to flow through the nest. 
  • Two white eggs have arrived. Now we watch with cameras poised and wait for two baby hummingbirds to fledge.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Meet the Sun-Bittern

The sun-bittern, an aquatic bird, lives by wooded banks of rivers, streams, and bonds in the rainforests and swamps of Central and South America.  

It feeds on fish, frogs, insects, and crustaceans.  Hunting while wading in shallow water, the bittern uses its beak to stab prey.

This fellow lives in a flight structure complete with stream and dining at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park.
Camouflaged in brown and black, its body extends 23 inches when on the hunt.

When the bittern spreads its wings,  orange and black "eyespots" appear.
He shows off to defend his territory or attract a female.

Chasing Butterflies - San Diego Safari Park Exhibit

Pink Tiger Tail
Pink Rose Swallowtail
Pink Rose Swallowtail dries wings after emerging from cocoon

Paper Kite and Hearts
Giant Owl

For exhibition March through April,  San Diego's Safari Park introduces butterfly larvae into a glass enclosure.  Varieties emerge daily to share color, shimmer and magic with nature lovers.  

They arrive from South America selected to avoid parasites and viruses. UPS packages larvae in bubble wrap for protection during shipping.  

Spectators are monitored as they leave the exhibit to make certain no butterflies escape into the California population.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Flight of the Condor

California Condor populations declined in the twentieth century because of poaching, lead poisoning and habitat destruction. In 1987 the last 22 wild condors were captured and taken to The San Diego Zoo Safari Park for housing and breeding purposes. Reintroduction to the wild began in 1991.

The California Condor is one of the world's rarest bird species. Reports indicate that in December 2011, 390 condors exist, including 210 in the wild.   

Hurrah for the condor project - the most expensive species conservation project ever undertaken in the United States. 

The condor's wingspan approaches nine feet, the largest of any North American bird.  It weighs up to 29 pounds which makes it second to the Trumpeter Swan.

Elegance of feathers

As a scavenger, the condor eats large amounts of carrion.  It can live up to 60 years.

The beauty of flight

Feather magic - about to catch a branch

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

E-Harmony for Pelicans

Ladies primp and go all aflutter at the beauty rock,  "He's flying in right now."

The ladies stumble over themselves to watch him soar.


Laughter rises from the Gulp of Cormorants. Their talents include diving and swimming under water.

Corry smurks - He's still the top bachelor in town.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Competition Between the Furred and Feathered

"Those shakey tails have eaten all my daisies," said the song sparrow.  "Hey, I see you . .  . . " 

"Check out my hands and feet. Do you see petal pieces? No.   Blaaaah, no daisy breath either."

"Waaah.. . . where have all the petals gone gone gone?"
"Aha,  juicy daisies ahead."

 "Darn rodents.  Just ruffles my feathers."
"Yum.. The sweetness, the bouquet.  Mine, all mine."

First Day of Spring - Hummingbird Nest Discovery

While washing the car, we noticed several aerial acrobats at work.  These displays protect territory and attract a mating partner.  Today they performed for nest protection.

Half the size of a small fist, the nest hugged the branch of a Brazilian pepper branch above our driveway. Cameras poised for flying and still shots, we watched as the male and female took turns on the nest.
We may have three weeks to perfect our camera skills to capture movement of these Anna's Hummingbirds - Herbie and Henrietta.  By then we'll have fledges to follow as our photography speed improves.