Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Birding adventures and other odds and ends

This is a new adventure that I am about to embark upon.  Never had a blog and really did not give much thought to starting one, but have seen a few others that are really quite impressive and they appear to be quite enjoyable to follow and hope others might find mine a bit enjoyable and informative along the way. 

Birding has become my latest obsession and will probably be my obsession for the rest of my life.  I have always enjoyed birds and been intrigued with them from a very young age.  Growing up on a farm in Southwestern Nebraska and can still recall some very vivid memories of birds and my fascination with them.  Some of those vivid memories include a pair of Baltimore Orioles building their hanging nest in a tree in our front yard, an Indigo Bunting nesting in our sand cherry bushes, a Scissor-tail Flycatcher paying a visit to our farm, discovering an impaled insect that was a victim of a Loggerhead Shrike in one of our mulberry trees, and of course the many Barn Swallows nesting in our barn every summer.  Regrettably, I did not actively pursue any serious birding until after I relocated to Arizona in 2006.  Then with the realization of such a diverse abundance of bird life found in the desert southwest, I came to the realization, that it is now or never if I am going to get serious about it.  Even in Arizona the birding obsession came about simply because I had started hiking for exercise and it was during one of my hikes that I observed a Phainopepla and was struck by the beauty of these birds while in flight, showing off those white wing patches.  I could not get home fast enough to look it up and identify it.  I could recall seeing photos of one of those birds in a bird book as a child and never thought I would actually see one.  But that one moment made me realize that yes, it is now possible to see new and exciting birds.  Hummingbirds held a big fascination for me as they are virtually non-existent in southwestern Nebraska, but in Arizona they are everywhere!  And the variety of species is awesome throughout different parts of the state.  Here is a photo of the bird that brought back my interest and passion, a female (which is gray) and a male (which is black) Phainopepla.  And that stunning red eye on both is quite remarkable.  The white wing patches are visible only in flight.  This is a bird that belongs to the Silky-Flycatcher family and this is the only species that occurs in the United States. They feed on insects and mistletoe berries.

The photography on birds kind of developed along the way.  It started out wanting to identify every bird I saw and found out that some bird species are difficult to identify and if one is in the field trying to identify a new bird, you might only catch a short glimpse of it and then it is gone and then you have to rely on your memory of what you saw when you open up a bird guide.  Most generally a person does not notice every minute detail of they they just saw.  Photographs have been a tremendous help, but it still does not resolve all bird identifications.  I am by no means a professional photographer and never will be.  I know just enough to capture a good photo now and then.  With the advent of digital photography, there are now thousands of amateurs that are capturing some awesome photos every day.  It is enjoyable to share some of my photos in the hopes that some people might learn something from them and who knows, it might lead another person to pursue the wonderful and crazy hobby of bird watching!

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