Category Archives: Birds

Birds at The Japanese Garden

Two coots

Japanese Garden, Van Nuys, California. The Japanese Garden is a little gem, right next to a water reclamation (sewage treatment) plant, it’s a beautifully designed and maintained traditional Japanese garden right in the middle of Los Angeles. We’ve visited this garden many times but today there were more birds than ever.

These are coots which not only make some wonderful sounds, they have amazing feet, sort of a hybrid of talons and webbed duck feet.

Coots coming on land

My mother in the wheelchair thought they might attack but they just marched past us heading for a lawn they like to graze on.

Cute coot feet

This is the “money shot” on the coot feet, they’re from another planet. Check them out here.

Coots grazing

Here we can see what those talons are for: they’re pecking and scratching around for (worms?) on land but they also eat seaweed in the water. Amazing little birds.

Black-crowned night heron fishing

This Black-Crowned night heron was sitting there motionless and we almost missed him as we crossed this bridge. We stood here for ten minutes hoping he’d find a fish to catch but he only shifted his feet and butt around and never looked up at us. This is a big bird, at least 18″ long. There are also a few great blue herons at the garden.

Snowy egret fishing

We saw one large great egret and many smaller Snowy egrets like this one fishing across the waterway from the night heron.

Sophie and Liberty come across some starlings

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Sophie and Liberty run into a “murmuration” of starlings. I must disagree (which I rarely do) with my most excellent source Jason Kottke, the quality of this video is perfect: it’s what my wife and I would make if we kayaked out to an island and caught a murmuration of starlings doing their thing. Including the look of awe and wonder on Liberty’s face at the very end. In many ways, I like this better than a highly produced National Geographic video.

Yellow-bellied sapsucker holes in basswood tree

Dave shooting yellow-bellied sapsucker holes in basswood tree

Macedonia Brook State Park, Kent, Connecticut. Dave and I were hiking the other day and I spotted some unusual bark on a tree. On closer inspection the bark was riddled with woodpecker holes up and down the entire tree.

The bird is a yellow-bellied sapsucker and it really likes this tree. As you’ll see in the other pictures, the entire tree is riddled with holes, bottom to top.

Dave thought this tree was close to 100 years old so this is many generations of sapsucker action on it. No other trees in the area showed this kind of woodpecker damage except two other basswood trees a few hundred feet away.

As you’ll see in the last image the tree is still living, amazingly after such a riddling with holes.

Yellow-bellied sapsucker holes in basswood tree

Yellow-bellied sapsucker holes in basswood tree

Yellow-bellied sapsucker holes in basswood tree

100 days in Glacier National Park

100 days in Glacier National Park

This summer, Glacier Park Magazine editor Chris Peterson undertook a photographic project to take photos of Montana’s Glacier National Park over 100 consecutive days, starting on May 1, 2009, for a traveling photo show in 2010 to commemorate Glacier’s Centennial. He used a mix of film and digital cameras, including an 8 by 10 field camera, a Kodak Pocket Vest camera, circa 1909, and a Speed Graphic, among others. His idea was to use the cameras that would have been used over the course of the Park’s 100 years. While Chris was kind enough to share some of his photos below, you really should check out his whole set of 100. All photos and captions are from Chris Peterson.

Absolutely incredible set. As Alan says above, check out the bigger set here: 100 days in Glacier National Park.

Nuthatch with seed

Nuthatch with seed

Warren, Connecticut. Nuthatches are my favorites of the birds on our feeders. They’re the only bird that can walk straight down a tree although like woodpeckers, they’re insect eaters as well as seed eaters.

You can see how awkward this dude is on the feeder perch, his claws are really grasping to stay on.

This shot is an extreme crop taken with the Canon EF 135mm f/2 L lens and the Canon EF Extender 1.4x II for comparison with the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L lens. Different feeder and background and so, different blur and bokeh. I’ll do some shots on the other feeder soon. I’ve put this picture up full resolution in case you want to look at the largest size for detail on this lens combo.

Chickadee balancing and eating

Chickadee balancing

Warren, Connecticut. I always wondered how these birds can get enough purchase on a round peg to hold themselves up given that their little feet and claws aren’t built for this kind of perch. Some can but others feel the need to hold on elsewhere so they can pig out with abandon.

Note: This is an extreme crop as a test of the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 L lens I’m renting.

Chickadee balancing and eating

Nuthatch taking off

Nuthatch taking off

Warren, Connecticut. This feeder is on the north side of our house and it’s tough to shoot given its proximity to the sun’s arc. However, I was able to get a few interesting shots including this one of a nuthatch who, upon landing immediately took off when she saw me. I love her little feet and toes, so streamlined in flight.