Saturday, February 24, 2007

Niblet's appointment, Feederwatch notes

This morning I took Niblet in for a checkup before I would schedule his neutering. He didn't enjoy it all; I didn't take pictures because I spent the whole time holding him, petting him, or feeling bad for him. He checked out perfectly fine, though, so I went ahead and scheduled his procedure. Little does he know.... I'm worried about the whole thing, but Dr. Jones assured me it would be all right, and it might stem some of his more territorial behaviors, i.e. leaving poos everywhere. His new spot is right in front of the cat's downstairs litty; they're not thrilled with having to step over him on their way to the loo during one of his "sessions."

On our way home, I spotted a huge hawk in a field, eating. I decided to turn around and try to photograph him, but he'd already taken off. I then slowly followed him to a tree:

Then he flew to another tree, farther from the road. He was beautiful in flight, all white with tiny brown streaks underneath--chest and wings. I'm guessing Cooper's hawk, because of the long tail, but he was not very streaky-breasted. He looked more red-tail in that sense, but that tail is too long. Raptor experts, please help. I wish I could've photographed him in flight, but honestly, I knew I would miss him--no way I'd be able to get him in view of the lens, focus, and snap. I'd end up missing the joy of just watching him.

I tried to remember my good birding ethics, and I was probably at least 200 yards from him the whole time, but I imagine that while he's used to cars flying by at 65, he's not used to them stopping anywhere near him--maybe? So he went back to a treeline perch, where I hit the max digi-zoom:

I really need to get a good tripod and start taking my spotting scope with me. My attempts to bino-scope were fruitless. After a few more blurry photos, I figured I'd bothered him enough, so we came home. Niblet brooded a little bit, to show me his displeasure at being "handled," but he's too good-natured to stay broody for long. I gave him a big old carrot piece, so he's a very happy boy now. He goes in for "the snip" about three weeks from now; I'll probably take the morning off to go with him. Poor sweet boy.

All this happened before 11 o'clock, so after a good breakfast, I went back to start my FeederWatch count for this weekend, and as usual it was almost all sparrows, all the time. Got some good photos, though, which I thought I'd share.

When I lived in town (State College), I had a lot of juncos coming to my feeder. Out here, however, they're a rarity. Only once since I started my feederwatch counts have I ever seen more than 1 at a time. I love them, though:

I've always found it difficult to photograph black-capped chickadees and tufted titmice because they flit in, grab a seed, and fly off, all in just a second or two. Today, though, I got pretty lucky. Here's the titmouse money shot (not a lot of money, mind you--this is my photography we're talking about here):

Not too terrible.

I got him perching, and then I got him flying away! Look how his tail is kind-of tucked forward--why is that?

So--to the other sparrows. Tree sparrows have such garishly russet heads that I really like them:

I got another "flappy" photo as well:

Maybe I should try putting the camera on "burst," so it takes a bunch of photos in rapid succession, and I might get more of these rather interesting photos. I like to see wings spread out.

The birds are loving the brushpiles I've built, especially now that the snow has mostly melted and the branches are exposed again:

The day is so beautiful, clear and cold, with a brilliant sun and a butane-blue sky:

I have to attribute "butane-blue" sky to an old friend, Kris Patterson, who wrote those words in a song almost twenty years ago. Wow--it's been a long time since I lived in Austin (1988-1990).

I leave you with this photo of the titmouse after he's just left the suet feeder:


Larry said...

Sorry-I'm not an expert-pretty much a beginner like yourself.-I would say Red-tailed Hawk-It is chunky looking not lean-It has no banding on the tail like a cooper's but does show a little red.It is very light chested likesome forms of Red-tails are.-I can't see the belly band which is a giveway for an adult Red-tail but it may have a faint one.-Red-tail have a white v scapular mark on the back-I might see a hint of that.-Of course I could be all wrong-wait for the experts to be sure-Or I know of a website where you can upload a photo for i.d. from experts if you need it.-Larry

Mary said...

Delia, I LOVE your blog. We are both crazed - driving around, making u-turns to get a shot.

I hope Niblet does well with his neutering and it helps his little poop markings :) One of my dogs just had surgery so I know how you feel. I hear that rabbits generally have a "disapproving" nature. True? But they are so cute!!!!

First - I think that's a red tailed hawk (short tail - Buteo). I can't count the number of times I've pulled over to photo those gorgeous creatures and lost. Once I slammed my car door and the bird fled. How stupid can I get???

I enjoyed your photos of the two little birds I love the most - Chickadees and Titmice. But you are right, they steal a seed and run faster than you can blink. I say "Darn!" way too much with these little birds.

If you like mourning doves, juncos, and cardinals, I have them all!

dguzman said...

I think it's a red-tail too, Larry. And for a beginner you sure know your distinguishing marks!

Oh and look--below your comments, Mary thinks it's a red-tail too. I'm going with that!

Thanks, Mary; I remember reading in your blog about your frustrations getting photos of titmice, so those photos are for you! It was a one-in-a-million experience!

Larry said...

I am a beginner in terms of years birding-(about 3)-but have spent enough of my free time and weekends birding to drive my wife crazy.-Trying to learn shorebirds for the first time was a very humbling experienc for me.

LauraHinNJ said...

It has a red tail so must be!

Boys have it much easier than girl bunnies; all of mine have snapped back very quickly.

Just be sure not to fast him before the surgery, if they tell you to do that. Lots of vets say to, but it should never be done with bunnies.

Your bird pics are really great lately!

dguzman said...

Laura-Dr. Jones said not to fast him; thanks for the second opinion! Now I feel even less anxious.

Thanks for the compliment on the pics; I've been foregoing the digiscoping and shooting out the window at a feeder only about 15-20 feet away. I just need to trim those branches!

Susan Gets Native said...

Definitely a red tailed. No other large raptor has that red tail.
Look at a picture of a Coop and an RT side by side and look at the tails. No similarity at all.

I miss many, many opportunities to get shots of RT's. There is one that hangs out at the same stretch of highway (we call him the Mile Marker 14 bird) and I am alway zipping by at 70 mph with no place to pull over.