Readers’ wildlife photos

Charles Jones, a geologist at the University of Pittsburgh, sent in some bird photos. His captions are indented:

The upside of lockdown is that my daughter Hannah and I have had a lot more time to go out birdwatching.  The lockdown started early in the spring migration season for western Pennsylvania.  This first batch of photos is largely from late March and early April, before many migrants had arrived.

I include this photo of a pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) from late December because we’d never seen pileated woodpeckers eating fruit.  Both she and her mate spent quite a bit of time in the outer branches eating berries.

Spring brings both more bright sunshine and the occasional cold snap that causes birds to puff their feathers.  The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) is a lovely bird!

The golden-crowned kinglets (Regulus satrapa—great name!) are small, active birds that move rapidly among tree branches.  They tend not to pose and are difficult to photograph.  Last year we spent a lot of time at local bird hotspots looking for these guys.  This year, now that we are better at taking the time to look for tiny birds, we spotted quite a few of these guys a mere two blocks away in the scrubby trees of our local elementary school.  It’s amazing what you can find when you take the time to look!

About two weeks later the golden-crowned kinglets had moved north (or perhaps east to the higher elevations of the Appalachians), but were replaced by these cute guys, the ruby-crowned kinglets (Regulus calendula). describes these as “tiny birds seemingly overflowing with energy.”  The key to spotting them is to chase down any quickly moving birds with your binoculars/camera.

The ruby crown normally goes up only when it’s time to impress a potential mate.  Otherwise you can only see the red if you can managed to see the back of the head.



  1. Robie
    Posted June 1, 2020 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I have looked at a lot of mourning doves at my house, and never even noticed that nice pink patch on the neck. I looked them up and learned that in warms areas they can have as many as six broods per year! (If the Botany Pond ducks were even half so prolific, PCC would be completely frazzled by autumn.)

    That is a beautiful pileated woodpecker; I have not seen one in person since I was a little kid. I keep hoping I’ll run across one.

  2. Terry Sheldon
    Posted June 1, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Very nice photos! Kinglets are not easy to photograph under the best of circumstances!

  3. EdwardM
    Posted June 1, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    It is so true that if you simply stop, listen, wait (patiently!) and observe, it can be astonishing how many birds are around you. So many little lives all around us of which we are not aware.

    Thanks for the shots.

  4. Katey
    Posted June 1, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos, and because of those of the golden-crowned kinglets, I now can identify the bird I found dead after an apparent window-strike outside a Walgreens. (They have a huge, useless decorative window to display their logo). He was so tiny and perfect, and it made me very sad.

  5. rickflick
    Posted June 1, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Very nice images. Makes me wonder: why doesn’t everyone take up birding. It just takes a pair of binoculars and a bird book.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 1, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      And an iPhone or similar is even better than a bird book. You have the internet plus a camera. 👍

      • rickflick
        Posted June 1, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Yes, and it’s easy to report sightings to e-bird. They keep tabs on reports for research.

  6. Mark R.
    Posted June 1, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I also love the sound of mourning doves…lovely birds. I saw a pair just yesterday here in Washington. We also have pileated woodpeckers; they wake me up sometimes when they start pecking our house siding. Don’t know if I’ve seen any versions of kinglets…cute little buggers.

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