Readers’ wildlife photos

July 11, 2018 • 8:00 am

Stephen Barnard from Idaho has sent some diverse photos, including an unusual montage. His notes are indented.

Boris (the male American kestral [Falco sparverius] who bred in Stephen’s nestbox):

A female fledgling:

There are at least three kestrel fledglings, and probably at least four. I think that’s Natasha [the mother] up high and the other four are chicks. They’re being harassed by barn swallows.

An HDR combination of two photos, one focused on the fledgling and one focused on the moon. Weird effect. I had to add an eye.

A rare insect photo from me: a Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus):


Here’s another insect photo. These are trico spinners. Tricos are tiny mayflies that mate in the morning in huge swarms and then fall dead into the water. The trout go bananas, abandoning their territoriality to gather in pods at the optimal places to slurp tricos. It makes for very good fishing. I’ve attached a couple of photos of a rainbow trout [Oncorhynchus mykiss] in the act of eating a trico. Also, a pretty big rainbow trout (21″) that took a trico imitation. Finally, a closeup of the trout’s eye, showing a reflection of the sky and the creek bank.



11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Barn swallows: are they nimble enough to be harassing those kestrels? Are the swallows harassing to protect eggs/young or for another reason?

    1. Barn swallows are extremely fast and nimble — more than a match for kestrels on the wing. Kesrels are adapted for hovering and taking prey on the ground, among other things. Barn swallows are adapted for catching insects on the wing, and they’re very good at it.

        1. Birds other than raptors don’t like raptors. They also don’t like herons and cranes and anything else that poses a threat. That’s a universal as far as I can tell. It’s a jungle out there.

          These swallows nest in the eaves of my house, where they build nests of mud and straw. Any opportunistic raptor would be a threat to their fledglings. Other species that harass these kestrels mercilessly are eastern and western kingbirds and Brewer’s blackbirds. Even robins.

          The birds of more generalized morphology, like those I noted, seem to have an advantage in flight.

          1. Thanks Stephen for answering in detail. And I suppose they mob irrespective of chicks, eggs being present – they’d mob in winter for example.

  2. The HDR combination photo of the fledgling and moon is beautiful, and reminds me of some of the contemporary artwork that’s converted into full-coverage cross stitch patterns (one of the companies is Heaven and Earth Designs). There’s also software available to convert your photos into full-coverage cross stitch patterns, in case you know anybody nutty enough (like I am) to stitch such things. 😉

  3. Wonderful pictures, Stephen! I recall a discussion about naming the kestrel chicks, but with 4 of them the task is obviously harder.

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