Readers’ wildlife photos

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):


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    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.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Missing “w” in “why”

      • jedijan
        Posted February 9, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        That was obvious but why?

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted February 9, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          It is a miserable tale of working with the combination of a tiny screen, auto correct/auto complete.

          • jedijan
            Posted February 9, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

            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. philfinn7
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Wow! Those are impressive pics!

    • JezGrove
      Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:49 am | Permalink


  3. garry vangelderen
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

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

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    OMG I just saw the flying hornbill! It reminds me of cartoon superheroes – perhaps Hero Hornbill.

    • john avise
      Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Yes, I had the same impression. I was thinking perhaps “caped crusader”.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted February 9, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        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…

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    The true aerodynamics experts. Really nice photos.

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    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:

    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?

  7. Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Those are interesting! A very good idea 💡.

  8. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    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.

  9. GBJames
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I like that the photos show the birds “zooming”.

    • Posted February 9, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      “Zoom zoom photos” is what my kids would have said when they were pre-K.

  10. Billy Windsock
    Posted February 9, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    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.

  11. Posted February 9, 2020 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    They’re rocket birds
    Burning out their fuse up there alone.

    Great pics!

  12. Posted February 9, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Wonderful shots,must have been incredibly difficult to obtain.

    These remind me of those guys in special gliding suits who jump off cliffs.

  13. Posted February 9, 2020 at 6:38 pm | Permalink


  14. Posted February 10, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Gives new meaning to those “bullet time” scenes from _The Matrix_.

  15. Andrea Kenner
    Posted February 14, 2020 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Beautiful high-speed shots!

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