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
Coopers Hawk visited me

And here are a few photos from a little bit farther away. She was trimming her talons and flipping her head around to groom hard to reach places.

When this Cooper’s hawk visited my yard, I couldn’t stop watching her. She was so entertaining!

Hawk trimming its talons
Bird grooming itself
Bird grooming itself
Coopers hawk visited me

While this hawk was in my backyard, there was not a single songbird in sight. We don’t have bird feeders, but the songbirds flock to our water feature. The hawks have figured out it’s a fly through fast food restaurant.

These images aren’t in perfect focus but they make a funny GIF. See her yawning and tapping a foot?

Coper's hawk yawning and stretching in Bend, Oregon 5 February 2021

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – Hawks

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge – Feed Those Birds!

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
Continue reading

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
Continue reading

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
Continue reading

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
Continue reading

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
Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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
Continue reading

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

Birds of the Shore: LAPC

Birds of the shore are common in the spring in parts of eastern Oregon. Why? Because flood irrigation is one of the main methods used to water the crops. As the snow melts off surrounding mountains, it collects in rivers and reaches the lower elevations.

Birds of the shore in Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Harney County basin flood irrigation. Sandhill cranes collecting around the water.

It is released in controlled amounts in the Harney Basin, where 320 bird species congregate. This ancient method of irrigation benefits the rancher and the birdwatcher.

Birds such as sandhill cranes take advantage of all of that water. You can see flocks of them in the photo above and a single bird below.

Continue reading

Raptors in Eastern Oregon

Birds of Prey Tour

I saw plenty of raptors on a Birds of Prey tour in the wide-open country of Harney County, Oregon last April. We ventured briefly into the Malheur National Forest in search of eagles. Though we didn’t see any eagles, we did get a nice view of an American kestrel.

Raptors in Malheur National Forest, American kestrel 13April2019
American kestrel

We saw immature and mature bald eagles later that day. It’s always exciting to see them.

Some of the wildlife out there was keeping an eye on us. This herd of elk on a distant ridge top watched us for a while.

Continue reading

Harmony in Nature: Songsters of Spring

“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.” e.e. cummings

At this time of the year, I often think of harmony in nature. Every time I go outside, I hear the songsters of spring. Here are a few local songsters whose voices and plumage are full of gold.

Click on the word “song” in the caption below each photograph to hear the harmony in nature these birds share with us.

Songsters of Spring Western kingbird 17April2017
Western kingbird at Fort Rock, Oregon. Their song.
American Goldfinch On Cattails 30March2018
American Goldfinch On Cattails at Summer Lake, Oregon. Their song.
Harmony in Nature Yellow-headed blackbird 5April2018
Yellow-headed blackbird at Malheur NWR, Oregon. Their song.
Harmony in Nature Western Meadowlark  5April2018
Western Meadowlark at Crane Hot Springs, Oregon. Their song.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Harmony

White-crowned sparrows: Monochrome Monday

These bold little white-crowned sparrows can raise or lower their “crown”, depending upon their mood. They occur throughout North America, but their bill color varies. It can be orange, yellow, or pink depending upon where they live.

They have a cheery and distinctive song that you may recognize. Listen to it here.

Love nature and share the love: LAPC

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Here are a few pictures of wild things resting, feeding, and breeding. They are always reminding me to love nature and share that love with others.

Love Nature Gray wolf, MT 2June2018
Gray wolf

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.

George Carlin
Trumpeter swan & mallard, OR 19May2018
Trumpeter swan & mallard

Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.

Hans Christian Andersen
Pronghorn, WY  1June2018
Pronghorn

…When alarmed, their rapid career seems more like the flight of birds than the movement of an earthly being.

George Ord
Continue reading