Readers’ wildlife photos

November 19, 2022 • 8:15 am

Today we have a selection of photos from reader Richard Kleinknecht. His captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge his pictures by clicking on them. (Don’t forget to send in your own photos!)

All these photos save two were taken from the back deck of my current or previous house, each about 40 minutes east of Seattle in a wooded and rural setting.  The odd photos were taken inside my house, looking towards the front while standing at my kitchen sink. The houses are a bit more than one mile from the beginning of the upward climb onto the western slope of the Cascade Mountain Range.

The term, grosbeak, refers to any bird with a large, strong beak and is not a term in the Linnean classification system. Birds with large beaks (grosbeaks) are included in the finch family (Fringillidae) and the cardinal family (Cardinalidae ).  The next two photos are of birds from the finch family and show first a male then a female black headed grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus).  They, too, are year-round residents.

The pond is seasonal, filling with rainwater/snow melt, then drying out from July-October. No fish are present but there is an abundance of frogs in springtime, which attract garter snakes and great blue herons (Ardea herodias).

The house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), lives in the area year-round and is a frequent visitor to my feeders.

This male rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) from the Cardinal Family seems to be away from his usual environs, since sources identify the breeding range as mostly east of the Rocky Mountains but including much of Alberta, Canada. They migrate annually to Central America or northern South America, so the Western US is not on their migration path.

Steller’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) is often called a blue jay, which it is not, and it has a very loud and grating call.

Two female hairy woodpeckers, mom feeding her juvenile fledgling. I can’t believe I don’t have a photo of a downy!  That will have to change.

The Oregon Dark-eyed junco  (Junco hyemalis oreganus) is a year-round resident and quite plentiful.

The hummingbirds are either a female or immature male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna). Mature males have an iridescent rose-pink throat patch.

A trifecta: A Red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis), a house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), and a pine siskin (Spinus pinus) having dinner together.

Tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) nest in the bird house I built and installed just outside my kitchen window, and they have done so for all seven years the bird house has been there.

10 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Beautiful! What a great deck you have. I love the beaks on the grosbeaks. They look like they could break open anything.

  2. I also live about 40 miles NE of Seattle in the boonies. I love all the birds, and they all frequent my feeders as well. Except for the rose-breasted grosbeak. Very cool! Last year we had flocks of Evening grosbeaks, but this year, nada. What gives?

    The Steller’s jays around here also like to mimic the call of red-tailed hawks. Took me a couple years to figure out that when I hear a red-tailed hawk, it’s almost always a Steller’s jay.

    And I have a lot of photos of downys, but no harrys! That will have to change. 🙂

  3. Thanks for these excellent photos. This looks like a lovely place to live.

    Some comments, which I hope won’t seem presumptuous coming from an Easterner:

    Black-headed Grosbeak is in the cardinal family rather than the finch family, at least under current taxonomy. Indeed, it is the western counterpart of the very closely related Rose-breasted Grosbeak; the two often hybridize. The latter mostly migrates in the eastern half of the continent, but some do go through the West every year. So your sighting, while a good one, would not be totally unexpected.

    The reddish bird at the feeder is a Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) rather than a House Finch. The flying hummingbird is a Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus). The perched bird may well be an Anna’s, but it’s hard to tell. The birds with the nuthatch at the feeder are a male (reddish) and female (brownish) Purple Finch. The swallows are Violet-green Swallows (Tachycineta thalassina) rather than Tree Swallows.

  4. Great photos!
    To be fair and/or pedantic, Steller’s Jay is, in fact, a blue jay.
    It just isn’t a Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata).
    Ornithological convention is to capitalize the official common names, e.g., Paul Matthews’ comment above.

  5. Just an aside on language, since such things fascinate me. Grosbeak hangs together with the German word “Groß”, meaning large, and has nothing to do with “gross”, which can mean disgusting, corpulent (which then again is similar) or flagrant, or is a mass when speaking of certain products. It’s a tyypical example of words that once had commonality evolving in to different usages in different languages. In this case it shows the common Latin root “grossus”. Totally cool! And nice fotos, by the way.

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