Reader Pete Moulton has submitted three of his favorite bird photos and some background information (click to enlarge photos):
The first is a young Neotropic Cormorant, Phalacrocorax brasilianus, that allowed me to shoot its class picture during a dragonflying trip to a Phoenix city park back in late May. This species was quite rare in Arizona when I moved here more than 25 years ago, and we Phoenicians had to make long trips to Painted Rock dam (west of Gila Bend), or down to Patagonia Lake, just on the off-chance that we might be lucky enough to see even one Neotropic amidst the myriads of Double-cresteds. During the last 15 or so years, however, the species has become abundant in the Phoenix metro area, and at a lot of locations it’s now the default cormorant. One could make a compelling case that this is Arizona’s biggest ornithological event of the last couple of decades. Some birders might disagree, of course, and point instead to some of our more amazing rarities; but those are one-time events, and inconsequential to our state’s avifauna in the long run.
The other pic’s an oddity that might give you an opening to discuss genetic weirdnesses. It’s a leucistic Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya) that I’ve seen off and on for the last couple of months at my favorite close-in birding/photography site in Gilbert, Arizona. Since the other two pix I’ve sent are both waterbirds, I figured I’d best include at least one bird of arid habitats, lest your readers forget that Phoenix is really in the desert. LOL.
Leucism is a genetic condition that prevents proper deposition of the pigment melanin in skin or feathers, and I’ve written about it before on a post about the amazing white lions.
Here’s a “normal” Say’s Phoebe, not photographed by Pete, that I’m adding for comparison:
This us an adult Green Heron (Butorides virescens) from a habitat restoration area along the Salt River just south of downtown Phoenix. My favorite of all avian subjects, and I’ve shot hundreds of pictures of them through the years.
Pete’s also sent a link to a video showing a Green Heron fishing, using pieces of bread that it places on the water as bait. I believe I’ve posted this before, but the link is here. You might want to turn the sound off, as the narration is a tad annoying.