Readers’ wildlife photos

June 11, 2014 • 4:18 am

Two contributors today; the first is reader Ivar Husa, photographer and woodworker, who contributes photos of adorable kildeer chicks (Charadrius vociferus):

I had to get my ‘oar in the water’ on these killdeer pictures. I came across a small family of killdeer near a wildlife refuge road, and took these pictures. They were taken on Lateral C RD, in Yakima County, WA, close to the Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge.

Here’s a family, with the chicks looking like miniature adults. Easy one: spot the chicks.

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By ‘doing the math’ (knowing the distance to the subject, from EXIF data) I determined that this little bird’s dimensions. Nose-to-tail, this little guy is 3.9” ‘long’, in this pose. Top to bottom he/she is 3.4”.

This is ADORABLE.  Don’t you just want to kiss its little head?

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For another subject, here is a tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) with a mouth full of bugs to feed its chicks. How do they capture a second (third, fourth) bug without losing the first, in flight?

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Finally, an Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) from regular Stephen Barnard, who says it’s a new species for him.

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26 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. The tree swallow picture says it has a mouth full of bugs. Is that what is sticking out? It looks like whiskers and they are so even, I wonder if this bird has whiskers! What do you think?

        1. You’ll see prominent whisker-like plumes on most birds that feed on small flying insects. Nightjars, for example (but first you have to be able to see the bird).

      1. Mark, I am not so sure those are “whiskers” on the swallow. I thought so at first but I don’t think swallow whiskers would be that big. I think those are insect legs, some sort of midge or cranefly or other fly.

        A quick look at google images for swallows, and I don’t see prominent whiskers.

        Scanlon is right in that many birds do have such whiskers. The Tyrant Flycatchers (Phoebes, Kingbirds, Flycathers) do have them, for sure.

    1. Beaks are also a bit bendable, so it’s possible for many birds to open the front part of the beak without opening the back part. I don’t know if swallows do that.

        1. Hummingbird beaks are remarkable too, as to how wide they can open. A couple years ago PBS aired a new hummingbird program where high speed video revealed for the first time how hummers catch insects on the fly. They are related to swifts, and the program showed how incredibly wide their tiny mouths open up when scooping insects out of the sky.
          Look on PBS website; I think you can watch it there. I was really impressed as to how new photo/video technology is allowing us to see more.

  2. The killdeer chick has made my day!
    Eastern kingbirds are great to watch and such handsome birds. They’ve got whiskers too!

  3. Western Kingbirds are common here, but not the Eastern Kingbird.

    I’m seriously jealous of the photos of the killdeer chicks.

  4. Jerry, I’m pretty sure it’s “killdeer,” with two L’s. You may be thinking of Dr. Kildare!

    Killdeer chicks are the cutest little critters ever. One time when my son was small we came across a family in a field and went and got a good look at the chicks up-close. Of course the parents were going nuts with their broken-wing displays, and I felt kind of bad about that. It was a good chance to talk to my young son about evolution, and how that display trait. His first comment was that the first bird to do the broken-wing thing must have been really smart, which made me appreciate the cognitive difficulties people have with evolution. They just don’t have an intuitive feeling for small selection pressure acting over long periods of time.

  5. I am amazed at how the brown, black, and white color pattern of the chicks’ wing is positioned to hide the wing into the counter-shaded body color. If it did not do this it would give away the camouflage, I suppose.
    It is so often the little things….

  6. All gorgeous photos! I’ve seen King Birds here occasionally but haven’t noticed any this year.

    I’ve never seen a kildeer chick but cute that they just look like little kildeers!

    That is a great photo of the swallow as well. They can be darty little things!

    1. These Kingbirds, both Western and Eastern (there are other species of Tyrannus), perch conspicuously on high points, in full view. It’s like they’re daring a challenge. This one was looking at me with what I felt was contempt.

  7. A few years ago, while walking about a local college campus here on the east coast, a rather loud and even brazen bird was bouncing around one of the smaller trees. What the heck is that? A bird guide showed it was a kingbird. A real beauty and not one bit shy! First and, so far, only sighting of this tough customer.

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