Readers’ wildlife photos

June 27, 2021 • 8:00 am

I am still asking for readers to send their photos in, as at most I have a week’s contributions in reserve. Thank you!

Today is Sunday, and that means another batch of themed bird photos from biologist John Avise. I particularly like this week’s theme, which involves two groups of animals. (As you’ll see, John knows his fish as well as he knows his birds.)  His notes and IDs are indented, and you can click on his photos to enlarge them.

Piscivorous Birds with Their Fish

Many birds are piscivorous (fish-eating), so it’s common to see piscivores in action.  Occasionally, I’ve managed to photograph a bird and its piscine prey with sufficient detail to reveal the general type or even the species of fish recently captured (this is often helped by knowing the piscine species that inhabit the body of water where the bird was feeding).  In this batch of photos, I try to identify not only the piscivorous bird but also the type of fish it is about to consume.  The White Tern was photographed in Hawaii;  all other pictures were taken in southern California.

Elegant Tern (Sterna elegans) with topsmelt silverside (Atherinops affinis):

Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) with topmelt silverside:

Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri) with topsmelt silverside:

Least Tern (Sterna antillarum) with topsmelt silverside:

Least Tern with unknown fish:

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) with mullet (Mugil cephalus):

Osprey with unknown fish:

Another Osprey with mullet:

Osprey with partially eaten fish:

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) with bullhead (Ameiurus sp.):

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) with bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus):

White Tern (Gygis alba) and chick with unknown eel-like fish:

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) with unknown fish:

Anhinga (Anhiinga anhinga) with sculpin (Cottoidea):

Anhinga swallowing sculpin:

16 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. Thanks. Also, i see that I neglected to mention that my Anhinga photos were taken in Florida (not California).

  1. Once again John Avise has treated us to great photos of birds. Thanks!
    Recently he featured Official U.S. state birds and I was wondering if in the future he might want to feature official birds of Canada’s provinces and territories. They are:
    Alberta: Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
    British Columbia: Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)
    Manitoba: Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa)
    New Brunswick: Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
    Newfoundland and Labrador: Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)
    Northwest Territories: Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus)
    Nova Scotia: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
    Nunavut: Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta)
    Ontario: Common Loon (Gavia immer)
    Prince Edward Island: Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
    Quebec: Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiaca)
    Saskatchewan: Sharp-Tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus)
    Yukon Territory: Common Raven (Corvus corax)

    There is no official bird for the entire country but a strong contender would be the Canada Jay (Perisoreus canadensis)

    1. Thanks very much for this fascinating suggestion. However, after looking through the list, I’m afraid I simply don’t have photos of enough of those species. On the bright side, at least the list of Provincial birds does give me many species to try to photograph in the future!

  2. These photos are great and lead one to wonder how on earth some of these birds swallow and process these items. A bluegill is an elliptical disk; how does it get to a grebe’s stomach? Don’t the fins sometimes stab the bird’s innards? And then what happens when it gets to the stomach? I guess there must be really strong acids in there. Whatever is in there would make a great draincleaner.

  3. The Anhinga isn’t eating a sculpin, it is eating a hypostomid catfish, possibly a Hypostomus. I won’t go farther with the ID because eyeball IDs are dangerous. Hypostomus are in Florida and so are Anhinga.

  4. As others have commented, I can’t imagine how these birds eat such spiky fish! One would half expect those dorsal and pectoral fin spines to make short work of any bird throat, but clearly the birds don’t mind. I don’t even want to think about the exit, but it reminds me of what I’m told is a quaint Scottish saying; “I hope your next shite’s a hedgehog!”

    Also interesting how many seabirds are dark, gray, or black on top and white underneath. Lots of white seabirds. Can I assume this has something to do with hunting over water ?

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