One more chance-Backyard bird adventure: BWPC

So, the other day I heard a loud “chirp, chirp” call outside my house. I peered out the back door and spotted a baby American Robin in the middle of the yard. Maybe it was the same one we put back in its nest several days before, giving it one more chance at life.

When I approached, the young bird walked underneath some cactus in my garden. Meanwhile, both parents continued chirping loudly.

Oh no!

A movement nearby caught my eye. A Red-tailed Hawk lurked in the background, watching the fledgling. No wonder the parents of the baby robin were upset!

I tried to catch the young robin, but it flew. Not well, but I was pleased to see it could now fly. The bird settled in the gravel and rocks, right under my High Desert mural painting. Maybe it wanted to be a character in one of my stories. 😉

Oh no again!

I headed back towards my house when, whoosh! A Cooper’s Hawk flew towards the baby robin.

“No!” I said out loud. The Cooper’s Hawk veered in another direction. I often see this hawk in my yard. Here it is taking a bath in our water feature.

Meanwhile, the Red-tailed Hawk flew to another tree, followed by the robin pair. They harassed the large hawk, so it moved to yet another tree.

Something landed in that tree above the Red-tailed Hawk. The Cooper’s Hawk! Now the smaller hawk was harassing the red tail.

The young robin stayed put, but it was in a vulnerable, unprotected location and I was concerned for its safety. Our dogs, or the many free-roaming cats in the neighborhood, might attack the bird there.

One more chance

This baby bird deserved one more chance, I decided. I scooped up the bird, intending to place it inside a dense shrub.

As part of its protest at being moved, the robin pooped. I was wearing slip-on shoes and the poop splattered onto one of my shoes and my bare ankle. The robin squawked in its loudest voice.

Undeterred by its verbal and physical protestations, I kicked off the poopy shoe and settled the baby robin deep inside a cinquefoil shrub. A spiky-leaved Oregon grape shrub growing nearby offered added protection. The parent birds perched anxiously nearby.

Should I have taken this bird to an animal rescue organization? No, they get too many fledglings from well-intentioned people in the spring. This young bird can fly and may be safer out of its nest at this stage. Predators are more likely to prey on nests the longer they’re occupied.

I moved this bird back into its nest several days before when the nestling was blind and flightless. Was that okay? Since I touched the young bird, won’t the adult birds abandon their baby? It’s okay to put recently hatched nestlings back into nests. No, your scent won’t keep the young bird’s parents away. Most birds don’t have a highly developed sense of smell.

When You Should–and Should Not–Rescue Baby Birds gives more information on this topic.

The pair of robins chirped nonstop after I moved their fledgling, but quieted as the time passed. I hope that meant they found the young bird.

Will this baby robin survive? I don’t know. Though I helped, Mother Nature will make the final decision

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – Common birds in your area seen this time of the year

The burnt forehead bird – Hawaiian moorhen: BWPC

I was lucky to see the ’alae ’ula ,”burnt forehead” bird, while visiting the Waimea Valley on the island of O’ahu several years ago. This subspecies of mudhen is the Hawaiian moorhen or Hawaiian gallinule.

Population estimates range from 300-500. Due to their secretive nature, it’s difficult to know their exact numbers. Hawaiian moorhens live mainly on the islands of O’ahu and Kaua’i, with a few reports of sightings on the islands of Maui and Hawai’i. The 15 birds living at the Waimea Valley site are considered a treasured natural resource.

burnt forehead bird

So where does this moorhen get the “burnt forehead” nickname? Here’s an explanation from the Waimea Valley website:

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Wonderful colors inspired by a song: LAPC

This week I’m featuring pictures of green, red, blue, and white. These are colors in What a Wonderful World, a song that brings back a special memory. Many years ago, I helped a kindergartner class with an art project related to the song. I assigned each student a color and let them paint anything they wanted. It was a “wonderful” experience!

Here’s my take on the colors from the song.

This picture shows the vibrancy of green foliage surrounding a great blue heron in Troutdale.

Wonderful great blue heron

Here’s a picture featuring the power of red in an up close portrait of a hibiscus.

Close up of hyacinth flower
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Baby bird among the berries: Macro Monday

This morning I was out taking pictures of the sunrise and noticed this baby bird among the berries. It was lucky to have landed in a place covered with a cushioning layer of western juniper leaves.

I looked up in the tree overhead and spotted the nest. An adult American robin perched nearby, completely motionless. I talked to it and got no response at all. I have read that birds sleep with one eye open but this one didn’t follow that theory.

When we placed the baby bird back in its nest, it squawked and that finally got the attention of its parents. I hope it stays in the nest and fledges with its siblings.

Baby bird among the berries

Robins like junipers because they provide shelter and food. In the fall, they and other thrushes eat as many as 220 berries in a day.

The nest is in this tree. Can you spot it?

Robin nest in juniper tree

Macro Monday

Canada geese & goslings: BWPC

Though some consider Canada geese to be a “nuisance” species, they sure have cute goslings. I watched these young ones growing up fast in Bend, Oregon.

Canada geese & goslings

Here’s what they looked like a week later.

Waterfowl in Bend, Oregon

When I was out kayaking at Prineville Reservoir, these recently-hatched goslings struggled to conquer the huge-to-them wall.

Birds at Prineville Reservoir
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Elusive birds captured – finally!: LAPC

One of the challenges of photography is capturing images of elusive birds. Sometimes certain species are not considered difficult to photograph, they only elude YOU. Here are a few of mine.

Intelligent & elusive birds

I have been trying to get a decent photo of a black-billed magpie for a long time. These intelligent birds usually take flight when I approach. I finally captured the essence of a magpie recently near my home. This photo shows its long, elegant tail, striking markings, and iridescent plumage.

Slide the slider to the left to see the type of photos I have taken in the past of magpies. This one was near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. It teased me by hiding behind the sagebrush.

Elusive birds - magpie March 2021Black-billed magpie May 2018

Shy & elusive

I’m lucky because mountain bluebirds nest in my yard. When I visit Glass Buttes, an hour away, during the spring months, the bluebirds pop out ready to be photographed.

However at my home, the birds are especially shy, as you can see in the second shot. They somehow sense I’ve picked up a camera and fly away or turn their back towards me.

Mountain bluebird pair April 2018Elusive birds - mountain bluebird

Distant & elusive

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Spring birds: Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

The challenge this week is to show photos of birds seen over the past two weeks. As spring progresses, more and more birds, and tourists, are showing up.

Here’s a California scrub-jay perched on an interpretive sign in Bend, acting like a tourist. They change the flags displayed on this bridge throughout the year. On this day, they happened to match the jay.

Spring birds California scrub-jay

I’ve been seeing this lone swan near the flag bridge for several weeks. It was hard to figure out if it was a tundra swan or the less common trumpeter swan. It finally got within a few feet of me last week. It’s a tundra swan. See the bit of yellow near the eye? They don’t always have the yellow patch, but it’s the best clue.

Tundra swan in Bend, Oregon

For comparison, here’s a trumpeter swan we saw this week at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The skin between the eye and bill is thicker and all black.

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Waterfowl reflections on the Deschutes: BWPC

Today I’m featuring photos of waterfowl reflections taken on the Deschutes River. The first picture is of a lone swan that has been hanging around Bend, Oregon for the last several weeks.

waterfowl reflections - swan in Bend, Oregon

Here’s a pair of common mergansers taking off along the Trout Creek trail, north of Madras.

Making a Splash, Common merganser pair on the Deschutes River 2April2017

Here’s a pair of hooded mergansers in Bend, Oregon.

Water fowl reflections - hooded mergansers
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Snowy plover on scratchboard: First Friday Art

Snowy plover by Siobhan Sullivan

Today I’m sharing a simple drawing I did of a western snowy plover on scratchboard. This drawing shows stippled sand, waving beachgrass, and an alert snowy plover ready for action. This tiny shorebird is classified as a federally threatened subspecies. In Oregon, certain areas along the coast restrict activities from mid-March to mid-September, when plovers nest. Snowy plovers also breed on alkaline flats in eastern Oregon.

If you want to see how an amazing group of animators interpreted shorebirds, watch Piper from Disney. The star of this Oscar-winning short is a sanderling, but snowy plovers show similar behaviors. The artists who made this film spent a lot of time studying shorebirds and it shows. Enjoy this clip!

Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.

A Cooper’s hawk visited me: BWPC & SSPC

A couple weeks ago, a Cooper’s hawk visited my yard for two hours. She perched atop a snag for a long time grooming herself.

I’m guessing this was a female because it was a big bird with orange eyes. Females are larger in size than males. Cooper’s hawk eyes can be yellow, orange, or red. Mature males have deep red eyes but few females do.

Here are a few photos of her close up.

Coopers hawk visited me
Bird scratching its head
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Favorite songbirds of Central Oregon: Bird Weekly

I have many favorite birds, but today I’m turning my lens towards favorite songbirds that live near me in Central Oregon.

The first bird, is a sage thrasher. Plain of feather, these birds have a lovely melodic song. Thrashers are one of the songbirds of the sagebrush sea that I studied for my graduate work. They are a canary in a coal mine kind of bird.

Favorite songbirds Sage thrasher
Sage thrasher

The second bird is a varied thrush. They look like a robin with a mask, necklace, and checkered wings. I love their haunting song.

Varied thrush
Varied thrush

The third bird is a California scrub jay. These bold birds have expanded their range. They’re entertaining to watch and hear.

Favorite California scrub jay
California scrub jay
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Black-necked stilt pen-and-ink: First Friday Art

Here’s a black-necked stilt drawing I created with pen-and-ink. The rushes surrounding these birds echo their tall slim form.

Black-necked stilt by Siobhan Sullivan 2020

Here’s a stilt I saw in the spring in Harney County, Oregon. Black-necked stilts have an almost regal quality to them. They move as if in a procession, slowly and deliberately.

Steens mountain tour, black-necked stilt in eastern Oregon 6April2018

Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.

Birds on my Christmas tree: LAPC & SS

Many of us won’t be celebrating the holidays with close relatives, but we’ve grown closer to bird “families” in our yards. Interest in birding is soaring and people are flocking to this activity during the pandemic. I’m sharing the joy of birds in these photos of ornaments I’ve collected over the years.

Bluebirds capture the essence of the sky in their plumage. I’m hoping we have more bluebird days to look forward to soon.

Birds in my tree 19December2020
Mountain bluebird

Flocks of whooping crane birds fill the landscape with their unique “unison” call. Maybe people can heed the call towards unison in the upcoming year.

Whooping crane ornament December 2020
Whooping crane
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In the morning light – 4 haiku: LAPC

In the morning light
Fireworks light up the fall sky
Amazement above

In the morning light sunrise October 2020
High desert sunrise

When the day breaks bright
We find our comfortable place
Basking in its warmth

Pixie-bob cat October 2020
Pixie-bob cat
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A calm jay painting: First Friday Art

California scrub jays are usually a loud and active kind of bird. I shared this painting I did of a calm jay exactly four years ago today after a hectic political season. I wanted to show that a sense of calmness can return even after a time of chaos.

Calm jay by Siobhan Sullivan Oct 2020

The jay pictured above, and the one below, appear calm on the surface. But underneath those calm exteriors, there is a flurry of activity. Their minds are running through a lot of “what ifs” and their bodies are ready to spring into action.

Jay getting a drink

Today we are facing many challenges and “what ifs.” It may be difficult, but I hope you’re able to capture moments of calm, no matter how brief, before you flutter to your next destination.  

First Friday Art

Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.

Varied thrush drinking: BWPC & SS

I took some pictures of a varied thrush drinking yesterday. I’m posting them for the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge and Sunday Stills challenge. My previous post, Backyard birding adventures, shows other birds in my yard.

One or two varied thrushes always visits us in the fall season. They travel with the American robin flocks.

Varied thrush drinking

You can see how they’re closely related to robins. To hear the eerie song of varied thrushes, scroll down this page to Songs and Calls.

Varied thrush & robins

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – In Your Yard or Garden

Sunday Stills – Kinda Backyard Birding

Backyard birding adventures: BWPC & SS

We have a water feature in our yard so we have lots of backyard birding adventures. This summer I bought a special mount to take digital pictures through my spotting scope. This process is referred to as “digiscoping.” Unfortunately, many of the pictures I first took turned out blurry. I’m having much better luck with my brand new mount.

Here’s a photo of one of our California scrub-jays taken with my Google Pixel phone. Isn’t it a beautiful bird?

backyard birding adventures - scrub-jay near Bend

I used my point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix camera for this one. It was a little tricky to hold it in place on the mount. This a European starling and an American robin.

Starling & robin

We get tons of robins at this time of the year and they chase other birds away.

American robins
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Owls in the mist – Images & poem: BWPC

Owls in the mist
glide into view
on silent wings

Owls in the mist, great horned owl 2020
Great horned owl

Pondering us
Through eyes,
Round and wise

Burrowing owl vignette
Burrowing owl
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American kestrel study in pencil: First Friday Art

American kestrel study

This month, for First Friday Art, I’m sharing an American kestrel study I drew in pencil. When I took an ornithology class in college we learned about anatomy by studying specimens in a museum.

These sketches helped me learn more about birds, but they also turned out to be great tools for future works of art. I have referred back to them when working on pen-and-inks and paintings.

Here’s a photo of an American kestrel I saw in Malheur National Forest last year. They have beautiful coloring.

Kestrel in Malheur National Forest, Oregon April 2019

Do you have some artwork you would like to share? Use the First Friday Art tag.

Encounter with a Eurasian eagle-owl: BWPC

Eurasian eagle-owl

Being able to participate in an encounter with an Eurasian eagle-owl was one of my favorite things on a recent trip to Ireland. You have the opportunity to see various birds of prey up close and personal at the Dingle Falconry Experience, located on the Dingle peninsula.

Owl in flight in  Dingle, Ireland March 2020

This bird is a female named “Fluffy.” Eurasian eagle-owls are one of the largest owls in the world. Females, which are larger than the males, measure 30 inches in length. This owl’s wingspan is typically 4 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 2 inches.

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Flicker feather up close: SMM

Flicker feather Bend, Oregon 3June2020

We have Northern flickers in our yard and everything about them is loud, even their feathers. Here’s a flicker feather up close.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Barn Owl Up Close: A Photo a Week Challenge

Barn owl up close, Dingle, Ireland March 2020

Here’s a look at a barn owl up close. They are such an interesting looking owl. Their white facial discs and undersides contrast with cinnamon colored head, back, and upperwings. An elegant bird with a worldwide distribution.

A Photo a Week Challenge – Anything

Prairie falcon pen-and-ink: First Friday Art

It’s already First Friday again! Today I’m sharing a prairie falcon pen-and-ink drawing I created. This drawing shows their dark “armpit” marking. That’s one of the ways to distinguish them from peregrine falcons.

Prairie falcon pen-and-ink by Siobhan Sullivan

Here are a couple glimpses of a prairie falcon flying high above the 9,734 foot peak of Steens Mountain in Oregon.

Prairie falcon from the peak of Steens Mountain, Oregon 28 August 2019
Prairie falcon from the peak of Steens Mountain, Oregon 28 August 2019

Share artwork you or someone else created with the First Friday Art tag.

Happy Friday!

Feather on scratchboard: First Friday Art

Here is a crow feather on scratchboard I created long ago in a scientific illustration course.

On the first Friday of every month, the city of Bend usually hosts an art walk through the galleries in town. The galleries serve snacks and drinks and highlight local artists. Since the First Friday event is not happening this month, I thought I would share a piece of my own art.

Do you have artwork you would like to share? You can include a First Friday Art tag on your post.

Sharp-shinned hawk cooling its jets: WWE #24

Sharp-shinned hawk cooling its jets near Bend, Oregon 27March2020

This sharp-shinned hawk was either cooling its jets because it was overheated or it was pretending to be a piece of yard art to lure in an unsuspecting songbird. 😉 It stood in my backyard creek for a LONG time!

Water, Water Everywhere (WWE) #24

Belted kingfisher drawing & photo: BOTD

Belted kingfisher in flight by Siobhan Sullivan October 2019

I drew this stylized picture of a belted kingfisher in flight several years ago. These interesting songbirds nest in horizontal burrows near shorelines. The tunnels range in length from 1 – 8 feet. Tunnels as long as 15 feet have been found.

This drawing is of a male bird. Belted kingfishers are one of the few songbirds where the female is more colorful. They have an additional orange-colored breast band.

While out walking my dog on the Deschutes River Trail this morning, I caught a glimpse of a male belted kingfisher perched on a tree limb. A lucky sighting! He was kind of far away but I had time to snap a quick shot before he flew.

Granny Shot It – Bird of the Day challenge BOTD

California Quail near Winter Ridge: BOTD

California quail near Winter Ridge in Central Oregon. 30 March 2018.
California quail near Winter Ridge in Central Oregon. 30 March 2018.

This lone California Quail perched on a fence post near Winter Ridge and called loudly. Listen to the distinctive Chi-ca-go call of the California quail.

All About Birds describes this bird as “a handsome, round soccer ball of a bird with a rich gray breast, intricately scaled underparts, and a curious, forward-drooping head plume.” A great description of this bird!

I’m lucky that they are common where I live and sometimes even show up in my garden.

Granny Shot It – BOTD

Killdeer in the rushes: BOTD

Killdeer in the rushes, Yellowstone National Park 30May2018

Killdeer in the rushes bordering a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. I assume they have tough feet since we saw them regularly wading into the hot springs in various locations.

Granny Shot It – BOTD

Finding Different Angles: LAPC

Angles are often used in art and architecture and are also found in nature. Here are several photos that show art and nature from different angles.

This sculpture of a flock of birds zigzags down a foyer and flutters around the corner of a building in downtown Bend, Oregon.

Different angles Bird sculpture, Bend, Oregon 17August2019
Bird sculpture

Swallows collect beakfuls of mud to create these nests along the roof angles at Summer Lake Wildlife Area, Oregon.

Red, white, & blue--swallow nests 30March2018
Red, white, & blue–swallow nests
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Bird Not For Sale: BOTD

Bird not for sale, robin nest in grape plant, Bend, Oregon 21July2019

I was visiting one of my favorite plant nurseries recently and saw a little sign on one of their grape plants. It says the plant is not currently for sale because it is occupied by a robin and her hatchlings. In other words, this bird is not for sale. You can see her with her beak pointed up in the air at the top of the picture. She is one proud and protective mother!

Granny Shot It Challenge – BOTD