Readers’ wildlife photos

Send in your good photos, please, as I can always use more.  Today’s contribution is “The Breakfast Crew: Part 5” by Doug Hayes from Virginia. His notes are indented:

More of the backyard birds here in Richmond, Virginia. Also, I went down to the lake at Forest Hill Park, which has mostly been a bust for bird watching this summer due to the crowds of people and their dogs. The park is about a block from our house and the trail down to the lake is about a quarter of a mile. I got lucky Sunday and was able to photograph a juvenile Green heron (Butorides virescens).

A male Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) at the small suet feeder. Over a dozen sparrows were mobbing the larger feeder, so the woodpecker had the smaller feeder to himself – for a few minutes.

Able to hang upside down, the Downy woodpecker could eat in peace.
Everything was fine until the house sparrows (Passer domesticus) showed up.
The juvenile Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) has become a regular at the feeders. The darker feathers on top of its head will eventually turn red. As they cover most of the bird’s head, this one is probably a male.
A standoff between a European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and the juvenile Red bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus).
An acrobatic European starling goes for his morning meal. [Note added by GCM: Reader Glenn Butler suggests, and I concur, that this is a grackle.)
Northern mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) have been showing up in larger numbers lately.
This is one of several new male Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) that have been hanging out in the backyard the past few weeks.
This female Northern cardinal was gathering nesting material. Getting ready for another round of babies?
A juvenile Green heron (Butorides virescens) perched on a floating log. I took a few long distance shots, then walked towards it. Usually Green herons are a bit skittish and will fly away when they spot people. This one was very calm and continued to preen and just hang out, even though I was only about 25 feet away.
From time to time, the heron would pluck twigs and bits of bark from the water. At first, I thought it was mistaking the debris for fish, but it was being slow and deliberate about gathering the objects. I later found out that Green herons are tool users: they will use insects, bits of food and twigs to attract fish to within their reach.
I watched the heron for almost half an hour. It finally moved into the trees near a small creek that feeds into the lake.
Camera info:  Sony A7RIV digital camera, Sony FE 200-600 zoom lens plus a Sony 1.4X teleconverter. The indoor shots were with the camera mounted on a tripod with gimbal head. The lake shots were all hand held.

15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. EVERYBIRDIE eats suet now it seems, except for the doves & hummers, I can’t keep that feeder filled

    1. I just put up a hummingbird feeder and have noticed them being very aggressive towards other, much larger birds. The first time I saw a hummingbird chasing a Cardinal, I could not believe it. I have seen them do this on several occasions now. They also buzz the suet feeder and will perch nearby attempting to drive the other birds away. I’m thinking about relocating the hummingbird feeder to see if they calm down a bit. Thanks for the ID on the grackle!

  2. Clever heron. Yes, they are wonderful photos.
    I have to agree that contestant #6 looks more like a grackle (common hussy!)than a starling. It’s interesting to me that a red-bellied would ever be intimidated by a starling, what with that jackhammer of a beak. I love the rooster head of the young cardinals. They are sort of homely at this stage, but they will shine bright red in winter.

    1. The Red-bellied woodpeckers are pretty aggressive when defending their place at the suet feeder. Just a couple of days ago I saw the adult male jab a sparrow that flew too close for its taste. The sparrow retreated and the woodpecker had a beak full of feathers!

      1. Dang redhead bully! Stephen Sondheim got it about right: the history of the world is who gets eaten and who gets to eat.

  3. Lots of drama at the bird feeders.
    Green herons are my favorite heron “flavor”…smart, powerful and stocky buggers.

  4. These are a fine shots.
    Green Heron and Blue Heron and other water birds, I’ve noticed, tend to become less skittish where there are lots of people. They seem to get used to the disturbance.

  5. You were so lucky with the green heron!

    The third photo shows a juvenile downy, with red on the top of its head. If you keep watching it, you will see those red feathers gradually disappear. Actually the photo is so good that you can already see that the red is patchy in the front. If it’s a male, the red feathers will then appear on the nape of the neck (female, of course, no red). It’s fun to be able to watch those changes!

  6. Hmmm, so corvids are tool-users, and now herons also . . .

    Doesn’t this suggest that there were probably tool-using dinosaurs? And how scary is that?

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