Readers’ wildlife photographs

April 30, 2015 • 7:45 am

Colin Franks of Colin Franks Photography (his photo page here, Facebook page here) has sent me a large group of lovely bird pictures. I’ll put up only a third of them today, as I don’t want to sate you with feathered beauty.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  (Regulus calendula):


Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus):


Northern Pintail (Anas acuta):


Red breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator):

IMG_15188 - mat

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus):


Canada Goose (Branta canadensis):


European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Now aren’t these beautiful birds? The only reason we don’t see that is because they’re so common (look at that derogatory species name: “vulgaris”). They’re like onions and Coca-Cola: we don’t recognize their virtues because they’re ubiquitous and inexpensive.


Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)


And two more Northern Pintails; I suspect these are mating, and you can see why duck mating often results in the female being drowned—a highly maladaptive act for the male!



43 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. Sadly the starling population in the UK is dropping like a stone so much so that the RSPB has put it on its red status list. Still common but its decline has been precipitous.

    1. In Sweden too, red status as from this week. [ ]

      When I check the swedish Wikipedia, it tells of a large european increase from the middle of 19th century and now a decline. Google translate did a poor job for once, so my summary:

      The increase is thought to be due to climate change and agrarian changes. (Warmer, less wet areas and more productive farmlands.)

      The decrease is thought to be due to climate change and agrarian changes. (Warmer, less farmland and increased pesticides.)

      Despite the local norther Europe decrease, it is still among the world’s most common birds.

      [ ]

      1. A tentative summary of my summary would perhaps be that we used to serve insects to starlings due to increased efficiency in farming, but the ever increased efficiency has now encroached on that free lunch.

    1. Because it’s GOOD! If soft drinks didn’t exist, and then all of a sudden Coke came around, my theory (which is mine) predicts that people would love it. It really does taste good, and there’s a reason it’s popular worldwide.

        1. I was gonna say something about putting booze in it too. That is the only way I drink any kind of soda these days. Not that I drink much booze! But I very rarely drink soda.

          Coke is pretty darn interesting, though. The recipe is no joke. It isn’t just artificially flavored sugar water. At least not originally.

          1 qrt alcohol
          80 oil orange
          40 oil cinnamon
          120 oil lemon
          20 oil coriander
          40 oil nutmeg
          40 oil neroli

          1. “booze in it too. That is the only way I drink any kind of soda these days.”

            Me too.

            Very partial to vodka in any other thing I like the taste of. Vodka & tonic with a generous amount of lime is a current favorite.

  2. To be fair, the term “vulgaris” in Latin just means “common”. I don’t think it had quite the same derogatory connotation to Linnaeus that it has in modern English.

        1. Memo to self : discover a new species of starlings and name them Sturnus hoipolloi to keep Diana happy.

  3. These are really fine pictures. Great light and exquisite detail. You can see the individual feathers of these birds, as if they were within reach! The Great Horned Owl, appropriately, seems to consist of two exclamation marks in bold type.

  4. These are really beautiful photographs. As regards the last one, man it’s rough being a female duck! I suspect the female drowning would not hinder the male much. For more on that, see Moeliker, C. W. (2001)

  5. Beautiful pictures! Every one seems an iconic image.
    Duck mating is pretty violent. I was recently learning about their extraordinary genitalia and what i guess is an evolutionary arms race between females and unpaired males. This is actually pretty accurate.

    1. Oooh, me too! Mine learned to talk, after a fashion, though not as well as a parrot. And it loved sitting on the shower curtain rail while I was having a shower.

    1. This one appears to be looking at me like I’ve gone on too long with my joke & it’s time to start work.

  6. Really good photos. One reason starlings are despised in the US, at least among birders, is that as an introduced species they outcompete native cavity-nesting birds.

  7. Cute Kinglet. And look, it’s wearing a leglet – very fashionable!

    Great photos all around, especially the owl!

    1. Yes, I wonder about the band. I think the US Fish & Wildlife Service often places bands of that type, silver-metallic. The ruby crowned kinglet has a beautiful song, which carries a long way, for such a tiny bird. I haven’t heard it yet this spring.

      These are gorgeous photographs!

  8. Thanks all. Yes, I’m told that the band could have been from any banding program in US or Canada. Not possible to know without seeing the number stamped on the band.

    1. Thanks; feel free to like my FB page, else I might hunt you down and teach your children creationism.


  9. What terrific photos, Colin! I’m especially glad PCC led with the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, IMO one of the hardest birds to photograph, being not only minute but little perpetual motion machines as well. When someone posts a shot of a RCKI on my bird ID forum, one of the identifiers is sure to remark that, “the blur is diagnostic.”

  10. We’ve had many great pictures from readers, but some of these are beyond great. The owl picture is almost hypnotic and the flying pintail seems to glow with inner luminescence.

Leave a Reply