Readers’ wildlife photos

February 9, 2020 • 8:00 am

We’re coming down to an empty tank, so I may have to stop putting up this feature every day. To prevent this, please send in your good wildlife photos, as I ask daily. Thanks!

Fortunately, I have a few batches of photos from evolutionary ecologist John Avise.  Today’s photos have a theme (John’s captions are indented):

     Another small batch of rather peculiar shots: “Ever wonder what a rapidly flying bird looks like in-between flaps?  I say these photos illustrate ‘bullet’ or ‘rocket’ flight”:
Acorn Woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) with and without insects in bill (California):

Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) with and without acorn (Florida):

Two Western Scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica) (California):


American Pipit (Anthus rubescens) (California):

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) (South Africa):

23 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Instead of ending the daily entry, hy not re-post entries from long ago?

    So there could be the new RWP series and then a series where “we look back”… or something… for days when new pics are not ready. There’s something nice about this feature being a daily serving.

          1. Sorry, I thought you were being pedantic and annoying by picking out a simple typo. I usually only get annoyed with improper use of there, they’re and their. I obviously need to pay more attention. 🙂

  2. These pics really show the aerodynamic shape of the body. They still have some ‘lift’ between wing flaps. Wonderful shots.

      1. Or the mascot of certain breakfast cereals…toruses flavored with sarsaparilla… and colors ….

        But the specimen here has a hero like edginess in the expression- akin to raptors…

  3. Very interesting John. I had not paid attention to how [some?] birds configure themselves between bouts of level-flight wing flapping. Here is your first example, the acorn woodpecker, making a ‘rocket’ for periods of between 1 & 4 flaps/beats in between periods of approx 6 to 12 flaps:

    https://youtu.be/gOpx1cOz62U

    Perhaps this creature has one ideal/most economical flapping rate & shuts down when it’s rising too high above the target ‘granary tree’ it’s aiming at? And the randomish beating/rocketing/gliding is an extra few % insurance against hawks?

  4. Super photos! Woodpeckers tend to have an undulating flight and the dips presumably correspond to the closed wing phase of the flapping. Some birds of course rarely close their wings in this way. The broad-winged soarers such as eagles, large hawks, vultures storks and pelicans use thermals to rise on outstretched wings with very little flapping and then glide to the next thermal. Albatrosses, shearwaters and petrels also glide on outstretched wings with little or no flapping but in their case they use dynamic soaring in which they exploit variable air currents created by wind passing over waves in the ocean.

  5. The Hornbill is either having a really bad day, or, he is on his way to seriously mess up some other birds day. Great pictures.

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