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Active Since: September 1, 2016
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Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    A little over a year ago I upgraded my camera body to a Nikon D850 from a Nikon D7100. I considered a mirrorless camera at the time but couldn’t afford it.  I’ve since replaced the original 200-500 Nikkor Zoom lens with a Tamron G2 150-600 Zoom.  The lighter weight and longer focal length of the Tamron has been helpful but after going through this lesson, I’m considering whether to get a 1.4 teleconverter and use it with my original lens to see what opportunities that could provide.  When I lived in Oregon, there were several places I could use my car as a blind, but that option has been extremely limited in Idaho, where I now live.  It also isn’t feasible to set up a blind several days in advance of using it on public land as it would get stolen or trashed.  Most private land is closed to bird photographers unless you have a personal relationship with the landowner.
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    I am hoping to photograph sandhill cranes as they come in to land.  Sandhill cranes migrate through my area in large numbers and can be found reliably at Roswell Marsh Wildlife Management Area near the Idaho/Oregon border and at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Because of COVID I can’t get to Malheur right now.  So I’m hoping to catch them at Roswell Marsh.  Access is limited but there are a couple of spots close enough to allow for decent photography.  Unfortunately, their comings and going’s are somewhat irregular as they fly out to feed in the nearby agricultural fields and then come back to the Marsh to rest and spend the night.  Late afternoon or early evening may be the best time to catch them coming in to land in the Marsh.
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    Activity 2.  I have placed deterrents on the windows of my house where I noted bird collisions have happened and tried to place my feeders at appropriate distances to limit the probability of a collision.  I am also a member of Golden Eagle Audubon’s Advocacy Committee where we are trying to get local governments to adopt anti-collision ordinances for new construction and to encourage anti-collision measures on existing buildings.  I keep my cat indoors and only let him outdoors under supervision.  I am planting native vegetation in my backyard and hope to work with my HOA to allow me to remove more lawn in favor of native vegetation.  I don’t drink coffee, but plan to purchase bird-friendly coffee for my guests who do drink coffee.  I have tried to reduce the amount of plastic in my life, but it’s extremely difficult as everything seems to either be made of plastic or contained/encased in plastic and only minimal plastic recycling occurs in this area. Activity 3.  In my 19 years of living in western Oregon, I noticed shifts in bird populations.  Black phoebes and red-shouldered hawks moved north into my area.  Varied thrushes are in noticeable decline.  Eurasian collared-doves reached northwest Oregon around 2010 and I saw a decline in mourning doves.  Interestingly following the severe winter of 2016-17, Eurasian collared-doves seemed to decline and mourning doves seemed to increase.  I saw a precipitous drop in house finches coming to my feeders when avian conjunctivitis appeared around 2014 or 15 and populations were still recovering when I moved in 2019.   Long-time residents of where I now live in Idaho tell me that Bewick’s wrens and lesser goldfinch populations have been increasing.  Mosquito abatement due to the presence of West Nile Virus appeared to have led to a decrease in common nighthawks.
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    Activity 1.  I often photograph birds while out birding.  Sometimes it is to document a rare bird or one I’m not certain of, but mostly to document what I’ve seen where and when and to capture behavior.  Lately I’ve been focusing on trying to photograph birds in flight. Activity 2.  I’ve been using eBird for a number of years now and have signed up for rare bird alerts in Idaho and needs lists for Idaho.  I also participate in Project FeederWatch, Great Backyard Bird Count, the Christmas Bird Count in Southwest Idaho, Golden Eagle Audubon based in Boise, and Southwestern Idaho Birding Association based in Nampa.
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    I have been learning about the differences in bird communities by comparing what I used to see when I lived in Gresham, Oregon with my current location in Caldwell, Idaho.  My place in Gresham had a patch of large Douglas-firs, a developing natural area with shrubs, deciduous trees, and native forbs, a small stream, and a lawn area.  Average annual precipitation was about 35 inches and the marine influence was present throughout the year leading to relatively mild winters and generally pleasant summers, although as the climate is warming, temperatures over 90 became increasingly common in July and August. Over the years of watching my feeders, I had over 50 species of birds, some regularly and a few infrequently.  Some of the regular species included wood ducks, house finches, black-capped and chestnut-backed chickadees, Steller’s and scrub-jays, American and lesser goldfinches, dark-eyed juncos, varied thrushes, downy woodpeckers, bushtits, red-breasted nuthatches, song sparrows, Anna’s hummingbirds, and northern flickers.  Less frequent birds included pileated woodpeckers, evening grosbeaks, white-breasted nuthatches, mountain chickadees, rufous hummingbirds, and red-breasted sapsuckers, among others. Caldwell gets an average of 11 inches of precipitation, winters are colder, and summers hotter than in Gresham.  My place here was farmland about 11 years ago.  As a result, vegetation is mostly non-native and relatively young.  The trees are not very tall as yet.  I have been planting native forbs and shrubs in an effort to create better habitat for birds and pollinators.  My backyard bird list is much smaller than in Gresham.  Species present include black-chinned hummingbirds, house finches, house sparrows, mourning doves, Eurasian collared-doves, red-winged blackbirds (still lots of irrigation canals around), Brewer’s blackbirds, California quail, American robins, and brown-headed cowbirds.  Birds have planted sunflower seeds that are now producing sunflowers so I am seeing American goldfinches more regularly.  Over the winter I had a few dark-eyed juncos but they migrate into the mountains for the summer.  A yellow-rumpled warbler stopped by last fall, but haven’t seen one since. A few species are similar to the two places (house finches, the two dove species, American robin) but the numbers are different.  Mostly the differences reflect the difference in climate and in vegetation.
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    Activity 2:  I watched my feeders regularly when I lived in Oregon (don’t have as good a view in Idaho due to window placement). Chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches would grab a sunflower seed and fly off to a nearby branch or tree to either hammer it open and eat it or cache it, often in bark crevices.  House finches would park themselves on a perch and gorge.  During the breeding season, the house finches would “eat” several seeds and fly to their nearby fledgling and stuff seeds into their mouths.  Evening grosbeaks would stop by during spring migration and gorge as well, but usually were present for only 7 days or less.  I threw corn kernels on the ground and groups of wood ducks would come and hoover them up, sometimes with a couple of mallards in the group as well.  There was also “disputes” between individuals as to who could have access to the corn and sex of the two disputants would vary (e.g. males would chase females and vice versa, not just males chasing males or females chasing females).  The Steller’s jays appeared to weigh each peanut as they would pick up one and drop it, pick up another and drop it, and so on until a particular nut satisfied them.  They would then either fly to a nearby branch and open and eat the nut or cache it.  Occasionally I would discover peanut plants growing in my yard, I assume from a forgotten cached nut.  I also wound up with a couple of walnut saplings, that did not survive in severe summer droughts, and a couple of hazelnut trees that produced nuts after several years.
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    Activity 4:  Earlier today I went birding at Centennial Marsh State Wildlife Management Area in Idaho.  While driving slowly along one of the perimeter roads, I was scanning the nearby vegetation.  I had moved from driving along a distinctly marshy area with patches of open water to a drier area that was slightly higher when I saw a tallish brown shape that did not look quite right for vegetation.  Looking thru my binoculars I saw an owl in the middle of the day.  The owl was rather slim and long appearing and dark mottled brown with yellow eyes framed in white feathers and two very short ear tufts.  It was one of 3 possible large or largish owls that reside in southern Idaho - great horned owl, long-eared owl, and short-eared owl.  This owl was slim so the shape eliminated great horned owl, as did it being active during the day and in short vegetation (shrub-steppe).  Long-eared owls are also slim but have long ear tufts and tend to roost in tall dense shrubs during the day.  I’m not aware of long-eared owls hunting during the day but knew short-eared owls do when the food demands of their owlets gets high enough.  Mid-June is about the right time of year for that at the elevation I was at.  My owl was indeed a short-eared owl.
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    DDE10686-3D5E-4796-93B8-D8715C4FC9B1 Activity 3:  although this photo was digiscoped, I have a pair of California quail visiting my backyard.  My neighborhood is a recent development in farmland, so I working on improving the habitat in my backyard.  These days I have house finches, house sparrows, mourning doves, Eurasian collared doves, red-winged blackbirds, Brewer’s blackbirds, and brown-headed cowbirds coming to my seed feeders and a couple of black-chinned hummingbirds coming to my nectar feeders and penstemons.  Robins have been plucking serviceberries from the two shrubs I planted last year.  As trees get bigger, I hope to see more small, insect-eating birds show up.  I’ve had flyovers by Canada geese, snow geese, mallards, red-tailed hawks, Swainson’s hawks, osprey, and American kestrels.  This past winter I had an immature sharp-shinned hawk and an adult Cooper’s hawk hunting my feeders and dark-eyed juncos feeding on seed I scattered on the ground.  Killdeer are still present in the area but none have come to my yard.
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    Not sure, but looks like it might be a Golden-cheeked warbler based on the lack of streaking on the belly. If there is streaking that I’m just not seeing, could be a black-throated green warbler.
  • Louisa
    Participant
    lulu1
    Hi Jimmy, welcome to birding!  Identifying female birds can be quite tricky.  In some species, the male and female look alike so you don’t know which sex you’re looking at.  With few exceptions, generally females are duller in color than males and may look quite different.  Most incubation is done by females, so they then to be more cryptically colored.  Here are some examples of how females differ from males in some common backyard birds.  I live in the western US so most of my examples are from there.  Female robins are very similar to male robins but not as brightly colored.  Female house finches and most woodpeckers lack the red patches found on males.  Female red-winged blackbirds are striped and can be mistaken for sparrows at first glance, but they are much larger.  Female ducks are usually mottled brown and often are identified by which type of male they hang out with.  Male and female doves look alike, but differ slightly in size, with the males being larger.  With hawks and owls, the reverse is true in that the females are larger.  Females and males of most hawks look alike.  One exception is the northern harrier; males are gray and females are brown.  Hope that helps. A good field guide can help you with identifying females.  I prefer the Sibley guide and back it up with the National Geographic guide.
Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)