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

In the light of day
Our differences stand out
Yet we share our songs

In the morning light - Songbirds drinking water
American robin, house sparrow, cedar waxwing, & lesser goldfinch

In the morning light
Snow melts from prickly branches
Revealing warm hearts

Snow on high desert cactus October 2020
Cholla & prickly pear cactus

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – The sun will come out tomorrow

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

This image is blurry but it captures a frequent visitor, a robin, next to an infrequent one, an evening grosbeak. Glad I got a quick glimpse of the grosbeak!

Backyard birding adventures American robin & evening grosbeak

Here’s another infrequent visitor, a hermit thrush, and, you guessed it! – a robin. Five different thrushes are in our yard at this time of year.

Hermit thrush & American robin

Mountain chickadees are a common visitor.

Mountain chickadee

Lesser goldfinches are also common. Here’s a group shot of these little lemon-colored birds next to a house finch. We also see American goldfinches occasionally.

Lesser goldfinch

Dark-eyed junco are frequent visitors. They aren’t afraid of the robins.

Dark-eyed junco

The pygmy nuthatches are a bit more shy.

Pygmy nuthatch

The house finches, on the left, and northern flickers, on the right, are not shy at all.

Backyard birding adventures - house finch & northern flicker

Backyard birding in action

One day I took a lot of pictures through the spotting scope (with the old mount) that didn’t turn out great. Google turned them into a GIF and I like how it turned out. It gives you an idea of how fast these birds actually move. 😀

Backyard birding Gif

I’ll share more of my backyard birding adventures as I get better at taking pictures through the scope.

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge (BWPC) – In Your Yard or Garden

Sunday Stills (SS) – Kinda Backyard Birding

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

Standing tall with
steely grips and
powerful presence

Eurasian eagle-owl March 2020
Eurasian eagle-owl

Owls in the mist
focus their vision
towards the future

Owls in the mist Barn owl
Barn owl

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge (BWPC) – Owls

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 an Eurasian eagle-owl: BWPC

Eurasian eagle-owl Ireland March 2020

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.

Guide at Dingle Falconry Experience Ireland March 2020

The guides tell you about the life history of each species at Dingle Falconry Experience. In addition to the eagle-owl, they had an Irish barn owl, a peregrine falcon, and a Harris hawk the day I was there. You stand in a large circle and the birds fly to each participant’s gloved hand.

Owl being held at Dingle Falconry Experience March 2020

The Eurasian eagle-owl is brought to each participant. That’s because she is heavy! See our guide supporting my wrist when I’m holding Fluffy? Eurasian eagle-owls weigh 2.7 to 10.1 pounds, with females on the heavier end of the scale. Barn owls weigh 0.9 to 1.4 pounds in comparison.

If you’re ever in Dingle in County Kerry, Ireland, try to make time to participate in this unique experience. It’s one you will never forget! 😀

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge – Short legged birds

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

Keeping our Distance: LAPC

Keeping our distance

Keeping our distance, Bend, Oregon 20 February 2020

Avoiding close contact

Songbirds in Malahide, Ireland 6 March 2020

Unsure where to turn

Keeping our distance, doves in Bend, Oregon 24 January 2020

On the darkest of days

Dark clouds in Bend, Oregon 9 August 2019

But one day, we will once again fly with our flocks

Paper bird sculpture, Bend, Oregon 23 October 2018

Rejoice with our families

Barn swallow fledglings, Sunriver, Oregon 30 June 2017

And our voices will join together in song

Keeping our distance, Yellow warbler, Camp Sherman, Oregon 3 June 2016

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Distance

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

Columnar basalt forms when volcanic rock cools rapidly. In this picture, at Cove Palisades State Park, the columns formed in different angles. Orange lichens highlight their form.

Different angles basalt at Cove Palisades Park, Oregon 25February2017
Columnar basalt

The fire pit contest is an exciting event at the Oregon WinterFest in Bend, Oregon. Sparks shoot out of this globe-shaped fire pit. Another fire pit behind it is sheltered by a angular tent.

Sparks flying at fire pit contest, Bend, Oregon 12February2016
Sparks flying at fire pit contest

The supporting beams at the Warm Spring Museum are set at different angles in imitation of how shelters from the past were constructed.

Trails of smoke from passing jets form an angle that points toward a field of flowering corn in Silverton, Oregon.

Corn Flowers in Silverton, Oregon 20September2018
Corn flowers

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Angles

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.

Sandhill crane, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Sandhill crane

Shorebirds

I love seeing delicate long-legged beauties such as black-necked stilts and American avocets.

Black-necked stilt, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Black-necked stilt
American avocet, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
American avocet

If you’re lucky, you may even see a Wilson’s snipe. Yes, they really do exist.

Wilson's snipe, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Wilson’s snipe

Flood irrigation creates temporary ponds and lakes with miles and miles of shoreline.

Harney County basin, Oregon 7April2016
Harney County basin

I saw quite a few long-billed curlew this spring. I was dive-bombed by one once when I was too close to her nest. That bill is dangerous looking! It can measure more than eight and a half inches in length.

Birds of the shore, Long-billed curlew, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Long-billed curlew

Waterfowl

Thousands of Ross’ and snow geese congregate in this area.

Ross' and snow geese, Harney County, Oregon 7April2016
Ross’ and snow geese

Waterfowl are common in the ponds and lakes. Here is a raft of ducks. This image is a little blurry but I included it to show the difference between canvasbacks and redhead ducks. The pair on the far left are redheads. See how the plumage is more gray? There are lots of opportunities to get clear views of many species.

Canvasback ducks and redhead ducks, Harney County, Oregon 12April2019
Redhead and canvasback ducks

You may see elegant swans as well. Trumpeter and tundra swans have been seen here.

Birds of the shore, Trumpeter swan, Summer Lake, Oregon 1November2017
Trumpeter swan

Special finds

You will be amazed when you spot unique birds of the shore, such as this American bittern. Keep your binoculars handy when traveling through this country in the spring and you will be rewarded.

Birds of the shore, American bittern, Harney County, Oregon 8April2016
American bittern

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Seascapes and/or lakeshore

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.

Rocky Mountain Elk, Harney County, Oregon 13April2019
Rocky Mountain Elk

Raptors were common and we saw many of them perched on fenceposts and telephone poles.

Raptors field trip, Swainson's hawk, Harney County, Oregon 13April2019
Swainson’s hawk
Ferruginous hawk, Harney County, Oregon 13April2019
Ferruginous hawk

Ground squirrels hang out in the irrigated fields and the birds of prey congregate there to find an easy meal. They like to perch on the pivot irrigation systems.

Raptors, Bald eagles perched on pivot irrigation system, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Bald eagles perched on pivot irrigation system
Swainson's hawk grabbing some fast food, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Swainson’s hawk grabbing some fast food

Turkey vultures also enjoy some nice fresh ground squirrel. This one was close to the road and we had a great view of it having a little snack.

Turkey vulture, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Turkey vulture
Turkey vulture eating ground squirrel, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Turkey vulture eating ground squirrel

We were lucky to see a prairie falcon, the only one we spotted that day.

Raptors, Prairie falcon, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Prairie falcon

Mule deer were common. This herd had 30+ deer.

Herd of mule deer, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Herd of mule deer

We stopped in another spot to take pictures of deer then noticed something else in the foreground. Two burrowing owls! Can you find both of them in the photo with the deer? That was my favorite observation of the day.

Three mule deer in the back ground & two burrowing owls in the foreground, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Three mule deer in the back ground & two burrowing owls in the foreground
Raptors, Burrowing owl, Harney County, OR 13April2019
Burrowing owl

This tour was part of the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. Our guides that day were Ben Cate, from the High Desert Partnership, and Melanie Finch, wildlife technician with the U.S. Forest Service .

Raptors Pocket Guide

Though I know certain species well, I’m no expert when it comes to identifying raptors. I rely on helpful tour guides and field guides. I have field guide books and the iBird Pro app, but this handy fold out pocket guide is really helpful.

This guide includes silhouettes, identifying markings, and different color morphs. It was a dark spring day on this trip and the silhouettes page helped make identifying birds easier.

We saw quite a few raptors so it was a successful seven-hour field trip. Until next year…

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
Love nature, Ospreys on nest, OR 26April2019
Ospreys on nest

It’s not only fine feathers that make a fine bird.

Aesop
Pine siskins, OR 7April2018
Pine siskins

Each bird loves to hear himself sing.

Arapaho

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Nature

Bald Eagle: Don’t Fence Me In

Bald eagle out for breakfast

Bald Eagle & fence 18January2019

I saw this bald eagle standing in the middle of a field this morning and couldn’t figure out why it was there. Then I noticed a couple magpies flying close by. Hmmm. Upon closer inspection, I saw a deer carcass several feet away. I guess everyone was there for a breakfast buffet.

Making a Splash: LAPC

As you wade through the waters of your life you often end up making a splash. Sometimes you make a big loud splash and other times you need to make a quieter one. Maybe only a ripple. Here are photos of quieter splashes I have seen in Oregon.

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

Common merganser pair on the Deschutes River

Making a splash, River otters, Bend, Oregon 19March2018

River otters at the High Desert Museum

Making a splash, Mule deer drinking from my water feature, Bend, Oregon 15July2017

Mule deer drinking in my backyard

Making a splash, Western grebe on the Deschutes River 21October2016

Western grebe on the Deschutes River

Making a splash, Trumpeter swan family at Summer Lake 1November2018

Trumpeter swan family at Summer Lake

Lens-artists Photo Challenge – Splash!