Readers’ wildlife photos

June 30, 2014 • 11:45 am

Diana MacPherson sent a photo in an email headed “A female grosbeak with a strange look on her face.” See for yourself (click to enlarge). She added:

I can’t quite articulate the look on this grosbeak’s face but it does seem almost forlorn. She sat there for a while nibbling seeds. I find grosbeaks to be the least worried of all the birds that come up to my feeder.

I’ve found Diana to be inordinately absorbed by the facial expressions of the critters she photographs. Unfortunately, she neglected to include both the common and Latin names of this one (readers take note!). I don’t know from grosbeaks. ID, please?

Dignified Female Grosbeak

Reader Tony from Brisbane in Oz writes in modestly:

While I enjoy photographing wildlife I’m not close to the standard of many of your contributors. Nevertheless I’d like to share a few of my favourite snaps with you.

The one “Budgies” is of a flock of Budgerigars [Melopsittacus undulatus] I followed around snapping in central Queensland near the town of Barcaldine. While I’ve never seen the giant flocks that arise after a good season in Central Australia I was still blown away by this flock of around 150 birds.


The photo labelled “chicks” is likely of the young of the Horsfield’s Bushlark [Mirafra javanica]:


And the the one that isn’t a bird is an Eastern Water Dragon [Physignathus lesueurii] which are very common near any water in my city but always great to see. Old males can get to a decent size (comparable to a large Green Iguana) and quite colourful and conspicuous in the breeding season.


Again, if you submit photos of wildlife (or plants), please include both the common name and the Latin binomial. If you don’t know it, no worries, mate, for the readers will.


21 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. Indeed. Pheucticus ludovicianus, for those who prefer Linnean binomials.

      Excellent shots, the both of you!

  1. What a welcome change from the shocking decision belched forth from the high court. However, I am afraid that more wildlife photos are going to be needed if I am to recover fully.

  2. I’d love to see a flock of budgies. They are so loud and chittery — imagine a plague of budgies? You think locusts are bad!

    1. Try 17 year cicadas. The gazillion cicadas are finally dying off now after three weeks of cacophony. The first two days were interesting and then it got old and persisted for another two weeks + (still a few around). I should submit a wildlife picture of the large, red-eyed bugs. Initially having one land on you was startling, but after the tenth or twelfth time it was just a large annoyance. Our 75 lb (34 kilos)lab/shepherd loved them–little, crispy meat berries.

      1. We missed out on the big cicada hatch out where I am but I like them and though I can hear them I can never see them and I have never seen one crawl up from the ground and moult off the underground skin. Occasionally, I’ve found the moulted skin.

  3. I got confused as to who was talking about the Eastern Water Dragon. At first, I thought Jerry was telling me that iguana-sized lizards were common in Chicago!

    1. They are.

      You just don’t notice them because they are invisible and live in peoples’ garages. You might have one in yours. They like to hide things so if you have ever lost anything in your garage, that’s all the proof there is that you have one.

  4. Great images as usual. If I wanted to submit some photos, where would I submit them to? The contact link on the home page says “media inquiries only”.

  5. The grosbeak looks as though she has, after long and deep reflection, realized that this is about as good as it gets.

    1. Yes, I imagine her contemplating her life as a single mum(again!) and wondering if she couldn’t just fly off and start a new life near some other bird feeder. The kids are about to fledge after all and she isn’t getting any younger.

  6. In Green Iguanas Adults typically grow to 1.2 to 1.7 m (3.9 to 5.6 ft) in length from head to tail. Eastern Water Dragons are rarely more than a metre total length, so not nearly as big. Lovely lizard with strange biology, including sleeping underwater (with interesting gas-exchange stuff the details of which have not been published afaik). Very similar to the Asian Green Water Dragon, but Australian agamids diverged from Physignathus cocincinus over 25 million years ago (pers. obs.) so both Water Dragons presumably resemble their last common ancestor.

    I was looking at a flock-of-budgies photo recently and thinking you could treat each individual as a frame of video and construct a good stop-motion animation, or get an algorithm to do it for you. In a large enough flock flying parallel, each stage of the wingbeat cycle should be represented in proportion to its duration in a typical individual, and you could get a function to measure difference between each frame to minimise discontinuity. I’d like to see that.

    1. Yes, I thought I was off by a bit (seems it was more than a bit:^)) but I wanted to get across the impression that they’re not little lizards and tried to think of something about the same shape that people might have seen before.

  7. I find grosbeaks to be the least worried of all the birds that come up to my feeder.

    If by that she means they just hang out and eat, as opposed to grabbing a seed and flying off with it, I find it’s any grosbeak (which includes cardinals) or finch that fits the description.

    My theory is that they have strong beaks which let them dehusk a seed solely with jaw action, so they can keep an eye out while eating. A lot of non-finch small birds have to wedge the seed somewhere and peck it open, which they typically do on a more sheltered perch.

    If she means worried about human presence, then chickadees win, hands down. You can get them to eat out of your hand with a bit of patience.

    1. Cardinals never stay at my feeder and when they are there, especially the bright red males, they keep their feathers on their heads depressed completely flat. If I’m outside and far from the feeder, they won’t land there. Finches will come in then decide better of it and take off if I’m outside. Grosbeaks will stay if I’m outside and I’ve even gotten fairly close to them and talked to them. Chickadees are easily tamed but I’d not tamed, are quite timid.

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