Readers’ wildlife photos

Don’t forget to send me your good wildlife photos, as the tank is depleted at a rate of 7 batches per week.

I have a backlog of non-duck photos from biologist John Avise; he sent me these back in February. He calls the series “Passerines on a stick.” I’ve indented his IDs and notes:

Passerines (taxonomic order Passeriformes) are commonly referred to as “perching birds”, and for good reason.  Here are a number of passerine species, each naturally perched on a stick and photographed against a blue sky. Except where noted, all photographs were taken in California.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) (Hawaii):


Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens):

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus):

Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica):

Brown-Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus tyrannulus):

Clark’s Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana):

Couch’s Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii) (Texas):

Cassin’s Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans):

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serpennis):

Tree Swallow, juvenile (Tachycincta bicolor):

Tree Swallow, adult (Tachycincta bicolor):

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica):

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura):

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus):

Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens):

Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus):


  1. Posted October 30, 2020 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos! What a variety of birds! Thanks John.

  2. Charlie Jones
    Posted October 30, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    What lovely photos of some great birds!

    What kind of camera set-up does Dr. Avise have?

    • john Avise
      Posted October 30, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      I use an (old) Canon EOS 40D camera with a 70-300 mm adjustable lens. For birds, I normally leave it on the “sports” setting, which has a fast shutter speed. Thus, I spend nearly all my time “stalking” birds for good photo ops, and little or no time fiddling with camera adjustments. I know this is just a matter of personal style or preference.

      • Charlie Jones
        Posted October 30, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink


        You get a lot of nice shots with that camera and lens. We’re always struggling with getting the birds sharply in focus as they flit among a blizzard of leaves.

        I guess we need to get better at stalking them!

  3. Ruthann Richards
    Posted October 30, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    These lovely photos are part of a learning curve for me since I’m in PA, and many of those birds are western species I’m not familiar with. Thanks!

    Perhaps it would be interesting to have a series of photos of birds typically found in specific areas–e.g., northwest, central plains, AR, etc.

  4. busterggi
    Posted October 30, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I wish my local wildlife wasn’t blurry

  5. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted October 30, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    ‘Passerines on a stick’ 🙂

  6. Posted October 30, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    “Tyrannus vociferans” is a great name! I’m guessing that’s one loud bird.

  7. Posted October 30, 2020 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I think a barn would be easier to swallow than a tree…unless the tree was really small. Does broccoli count as a tree?

    Anyway, in all seriousness, these are beautiful photos. The picture of the Red-winged Blackbird is particular nostalgic for me, because it was one of my mother’s favorite birds. I also like that its name is a very clear and straightforward description of the bird. It’s the ornithology equivalent of “Black Hole” or “The Big Bang”.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted October 30, 2020 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    These were terrific. I like how many of these photos show a bird perched on a solitary branch with nothing else in the frame but blue sky.

  9. flexilis
    Posted October 30, 2020 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for showing my favorite Clark’s Nutcracker. Its harsh call is the essence of wild places to me. In the film The Big Year, Jack Black’s character was listening to that call with earbuds while he was at work, as preparation for his birdwatching expedition.

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted October 30, 2020 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    That Phainopepla looks like it was turned into stone.

  11. Ben Curtis
    Posted October 31, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for these – beautiful photos.

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