Amazing Birds

This afternoon was a beautiful afternoon and I was blessed to get a few amazing shots of some amazing birds.

An adult male Painted Bunting decided to make his appearance for just a few minutes.  These little birds are so beautiful and are a very rare site.  Their feathers are as if someone took a paint brush as painted their feathers with colors of blue, yellow and red.  Females are a pale greenish yellow with an eye ring around their eyes.

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Painted Bunting are members of the Cardinal family but they remind me of  a finch .

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There is always a beautiful Bluebird working hard, feeding and fixing their nests.DSC_6107

The Meadow Lark below is a bird that is overlooked for its beauty but take a look at how bright yellow this little bird is.  Their yellow underbelly color is amazing!

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A few Blue Winged-Teal was swimming on one of the ponds and decided to fly.  I was blessed with an amazing action shot as they left the water.  There is nothing like getting an amazing action shot of ducks in flight.

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The Red-Bellied Wood Pecker is a frequent visitor looking for corn and sunflower seeds at my feeders.

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Red Bellied Woodpecker

DSC_6630Just wanted to share and hope that you had the opportunity to get out and enjoy nature on such a beautiful day.

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Sunshine On A Cold Windy Day


It was a cold windy Sunday morning on April 15th, 2018 here in Arkansas.  Even though it was spitting snow and 34 degrees, the trees were filled with yellow sunshine.  Everywhere you looked there was a Gold Finch covering every limb, in every tree.   The flock of American Goldfinch, often called wild Canaries, were an amazing site to see.  Seeing these beautiful little birds made you feel like spring was around the corner. DSC_7217.JPG

If you didn’t see them, which was very unlikely, you could hear them.  Flocks of American Goldfinch sing in chorus and often the males sing in flight.  That many Goldfinch singing in the trees was a beautiful sound.

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During the winter months these pretty little yellow birds loose their bright yellow feathers by molting and they turn a drab brown in color.  They molt twice a year, once in late winter and again in late summer.  After molting, their pretty yellow feathers return and they tend to look patchy for a short period of time.  When spring arrives their beautiful coats turn a bright yellow, especially on the adult male who wears his bright yellow feathers proudly.
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The adult male Finch has a black forehead, bright yellow feathers, and black and white tipped wings.DSC_7454

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The little female does not have the bright yellow feathers or the black forehead.  She is a brownish yellow or you might say a dirty yellow but just as pretty.DSC_7506.jpgDSC_7422.jpgDSC_7436.jpgDSC_7437.jpg

These flocks of American Goldfinch never stay in one spot for very long.  If you see a flock you need to enjoy them because they will not stay for being afraid they will eat all their food in one spot.  They survive on seed and love Sunflower seeds, seed head of wild Thistles, Dandelions, and other plantsDSC_7397.jpg

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Adult male and female American Gold Finch

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Adult Female

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Adult Male

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A flock of Goldfinches are called a “Charm of Goldfinches”.  They fly through the air with a bouncy undulating pattern.  Compared to the Eastern Bluebird, they are much smaller.

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Female American Goldfinch and a female Eastern Bluebird

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I hope you enjoyed a few of the photos I took this morning of the American Goldfinch.  Keep watch for these beautiful yellow birds.  You never know they may visit your backyard.

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Turkey! Tis The Season

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Since turkey season has arrived here in Arkansas,  I thought I would show you a few shots that I have had the opportunity to take.  A wild turkey is really something to see and hearing them gobble is a sound like none other.

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This bunch was thirsty and it gave me a great photo opportunity.

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And look who popped its head up over a little hill to check me out. A beautiful little White Tail deer.

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And away she goes……  Isn’t it amazing at how high they can jump?

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I love seeing so many turkey.  I can remember when I was a kid, there were no wild turkey in the area.  I am so glad they are here now and have made such a great comeback.  Today Arkansas is well known as a good Turkey hunting state.
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Bald Eagles On The Farm

Our national symbol, the American Bald Eagle is one serious bird. This beautiful bird has made a big comeback in our state in the last few years. I had the opportunity to get some really great pictures of this beautiful bird while out riding around on the farm. I spotted him setting on a stump just looking around. This was a big eagle. He sat close to a pond where there were a few ducks swimming around. I have seen eagles dive for ducks a few times and i am sure that is what he had on his mind.

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He sat on a short stump for a while and then he decided to fly up to a taller dead tree. He sat there for a moment and flew off. I hope you enjoy seeing this beautiful bird. In the last picture a little bird tries chasing the eagle as he flies high above him.

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He sat on a short stump for a while and then he decided to fly up to a taller dead tree. He sat there for a moment and flew off. I hope you enjoy seeing this beautiful bird. In the last picture a little bird tries chasing the eagle as he flies high above him.

After a short stay on the tall stump he decided he had seen enough of me so he took off.

Arkansas is a wintering and nesting area for the Bald Eagle.  I am so fortunate to see these big birds from time to time and it is becoming more a common site here on the farm.

A smaller bird decided it didn’t want the eagle around and decided to try to take him on by flying right above the big Eagle.  He was a brave little bird.

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Tug Of War Over A Meal

Around the farm here in Arkansas, you see a coyote from time to time. At dusk every night we hear three to four different groups yelping off in the distance. They are very thick in population and have become a big problem.

These two found a meal and didn’t want to share. The pictures I took were not the best, but these two were not going to let me get close. They were about 275 yards away.

They had found something dead and were not willing to share. Both were nervous and watching, afraid that the meal they had found would be taken away.

They were both tugging away at the dead animal trying to pull it apart. It is not too often that you get to see a coyote feeding on a dead animal let alone see a coyote.  If you do see one, it is early in the morning, right after daylight or right before dark.  They do not roam around very often during the day.

Coyotes are a canine native to North America and are smaller in size than their close relative the gray wolf, eastern wolf and red wolf.  The Coyote can adapt to environments modified by man, and have been seen in many urban areas.

When Maggie the coon hound spotted the two coyotes she was not going to leave.  These two finally ran off into the woods.  Maggie sat watching and waiting on the coyotes to come back for hours.  She just didn’t want to give it up.

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Weekend Visitors To The Back Yard

EURASIAN COLLARD DOVE

I had a visitor to my backyard feeder this morning.  It was a Collard Dove.   When I first seen it I thought it was a  pigeon.  The Collard Dove is larger and lighter colored than the Mourning Dove.  Its tail is more widespread with a white tipped end.

The Eurasian Collard Dove is widespread in Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa.  Now it is becoming widespread in North America.

DSC_6950aDSC_6969aAccording to the Arkansas Audubon Society,  Eurasian Collard Doves were first seen in Arkansas in 1989 near Harrison.  Since then, they have  become more and more widespread and more common.

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Keep your eye out for the Collard Dove in your back yard.  They love backyard feeders.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL DUCKS

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In the early spring I start seeing a few Blue Winged Teal.   They are beautiful ducks with patches of blue on their wings.  The male has a distinctive white mark on his head. The are fast sporadic flyers, twisting and turning as they fly.   In the spring there will be small groups in and around the ponds.  They are part of the dabbling duck family.

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Blue Winged Teal  Male and Female

There were three this weekend at the pond in the back of my house.   They spent a few hours dabbling around hunting for food at the waters edge.

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WHITE-TAIL DEER

This weekend in Arkansas was none like I have seen in my lifetime.  We had a dusting of snow on April 7th with low temps of around 27.  It stayed in the 40’s all weekend with a very cold wind.  After the sun popped out,  a few White-Tail deer decided to come out to enjoy the green grass.

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The deer enjoyed running and playing in cool air.  If you look closely you can see that these three are little bucks.  They all have little nubs on their heads where their horns will appear.

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All in all it was a great weekend to see some beautiful wildlife.  Photographing wildlife can be so much fun and a great challenge.  Sometimes I forget to just put my camera down, enjoy and appreciate my surroundings.  It can be such an eye opener, and it makes you appreciate nature.

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The Mallard Duck

The Mallard Duck is one of the most common of all dabbling ducks in North America.  Here in north Arkansas you see the Mallard arrive around November, and they may stick around until the first of March.  They are not as common here on the farm as the Gadwall or the Ring Neck duck, but I do see a few from time to time and I always get so excited when I see that bright green head.

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The reason the male Mallard gets its nick name “Green Head”  is not hard to see.  When the sun hits its head there is such a brilliant green color that sometimes even gives it a blue color. Its black tail-curl is one of its unusual traits along with its amazing color.

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The Mallard duck is a beauty with wing feathers of blue and is considered one of the most colorful of all ducks.    DSC_0326

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The little female standing on the log is just as beautiful, even though she lacks the beautiful green head, she makes up for her beauty in many other ways.  Her wings are stripped in blue just like the male Mallard and her body feathers are stripped in beautiful brown pattern.untitled-1-of-1-29-3ab To me, she is just as beautiful as her handsome mate.

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The Mallard is a dabbling duck and can be found in any wetland habitat.  They eat from the bottom of ponds sticking their tail in the air as they dabble on the bottom for food just as the two Gadwal are doing below.

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Photographing water foul can be very challenging, and capturing a duck in flight can be very rewarding.   There is nothing more beautiful or exciting than a flawless photo of a duck..  It is always exciting to go through your photos and be amazed at what you have captured on your camera.

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Setting, watching and listening to ducks fly over your head and land on a pond or lake is quite amazing.  They have very sharp eyes and can see you very easily setting on the ground.    You want to make sure you are well hid and covered where they cannot see your skin such as your face or hands.   Looking up when they are trying to land will make them fly away and they will not land.

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A fact that I found interesting is how long the Mallard can live.  The oldest one on record was 27 years old and was shot in my home state of Arkansas in 2008.  The bird was banded in Louisiana in 1981.

Until next time….

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Animal Behavior cont…. Walking On Water

Last week I posted some photography tips, and I talked about one of the most important… Animal Behavior.  
This story begins on a cold January afternoon.  It was the kind of cold chill that went to the bones.  It was overcast and the sky was draped in gray.  I knew where the swans were that afternoon and I just had to go see if I could get some decent shots.  I took out walking carrying a load in my backpack.  My camera, a couple of lens, and my trusty tripod.

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When I arrived at the pond where the swans were feeding.  Some of the swans were on the pond bank and some were in the water.  I noticed that they had company.  A few cows were standing on the same side of the pond as they were except they were on the opposite end.   I noticed the birds were getting a little nervous moving around more and more.  I climbed up the pond bank keeping as low as possible crawling on the damp cold ground.  There were two adults in the group, a Pen and Cob, along with five young Cygnets.

Since spending many hours watching Trumpeter Swans, I have learned when they are not happy and when they are not going to stick around.  This group was not going to stick around long.  The adult male Pen was the first to get very nervous.  The cows kept getting closer to the group and that did not suit the Pen at all.  Cattle are very strange when it comes to something they don’t see every day.  They were curious and just as scared as the swans.  I kept holding my breath hoping that the swans would stick around just a little bit longer.

The male Pen started bobbing his head up and down and calling out to the group.  This made all the swans nervous and now all the group were bobbing their heads.  All the swans got in the water and started swimming toward the lower end of the pond.  The Cob was telling his group to get ready.  Every swan lined up side by side with the Pen in  the center.  I knew this was not a good sign. They were lined up for what seemed like an eternity to me, bobbing their heads and honking back and forth to each other.  I lay there on the ground waiting while holding this huge heavy lens up afraid to let my guard down and miss the shots that I knew were to come.

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The Pen lifted his angel wings high into the air.  I knew this was going to be show.  All of his group were lined up evenly at his sides.  In the photo above you can see the adult Pen in the center lifting his wings, the adult Cob is on the left side at the very end.

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When he started to take flight, all of the swans started to lift their wings and take flight.   None of them were going to stick around.

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All the swans took off with the Cob waiting until the very last to leave.

Knowing animal behavior and having patience is so important.  If I had not known the reason that they were bobbing their heads, communicating, moving around, lining up to take flight, I would have not known to be ready.  You must have the patience to stay and be ready to get the shot.  Not knowing all these important aspects will make you miss that great shot you only dreamed of capturing.

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I will let the photos tell the rest of the story…

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And the walked on water…….

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Seeing Eye to Eye