Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cedar waxwing

I spent a couple of hours today picking blackberries with my neighbors (who made incredible jam in return). In early July, I spotted a couple of cedar waxwings in some evergreens on my usual dog walk. I didn't see them again until today. They weren't happy that humans were spending so much time in their blackberry area.

I heard them but would see them swoop down over the berry thicket, then back up high in the trees. When I photographed one today, he was munching on a pinecone. Cedar waxwings are in western Washington pretty much year-round. I saw a pair in one of the cherry trees on our street last summer, so it was fun seeing them more. They are beautiful birds and really do look like they're carved out of wax.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Visitors to the Birdie Spa

Earlier in the week, a native Douglas squirrel was picking up sunflower seeds under the birdie spa tree. Usually they are pretty shy when I encounter them in the woods but she must've been pretty hungry. She hopped into the tree when I approached but hopped right back down as soon as I walked past. She was gone by the time I got into the house.

She was back this morning and stuck around for quite awhile until a neighbor's cat came by. She protested LOUDLY. I yelled bad kitty and ran outside to chase the cat I recognized had picked off the baby goldfinch I tried to rescue a couple of months ago.

I'm pretty sure the squirrel got away. There are lots of goldfinch youngsters visiting the spa, with an occasional sparrow, house finch, and chickadee. I counted 20 on the lawn at the same time. They would fly off en mass whenever a car or walker came by.

I have seen female rufous hummingbirds and both male and female Anna's at my feeders and the flower baskets on the front porch. No male rufous though. I didn't think they headed south this early but I know they usually show up first in March and leave first, usually in September.

My current exhibit at 253 Collective - For the Birds & the Trees - will be open for another couple of weeks. I hope you'll stop by and check it out if you live in western Washington. The gallery is open Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. or email me ( and I'll meet you at the gallery. 

Female rufous hummingbird

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I think this is the first time I've seen a grasshopper in my yard. This one was really a glasshopper, climbing up my kitchen window.

Ah grasshopper! You have much to learn and much karma to work through.

Love the otherworldly feel of these. The face reminds me of the hookah-smoking character (caterpillar) in the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland.

 If you live in western Washington, check out my new show at 253 Collective through September 9: For the Birds & the Trees.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Perching birds-great and small

Male Anna's hummingbird
It seems like I alternate photographing the largest and smallest birds. These were photographed two days apart.

The hummers, of course, are regularly visiting my feeders and flowers.

At the neighborhood eagle's nest, Junior is exploring farther than the trainer tree. I photographed these just five days ago. Junior waited for his mama but she hasn't been bringing dinner. It's time for him to learn how to hunt. 

Juvenile bald eagle - about 4 months old

Visit my Talons and Hummers online galleries or, if you are in western Washington, stop by 253 Collective - For the Birds & the Trees.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eagle tightrope walking

Juvenile bald eagle spent a few weeks "branching," jumping from branch to branch in their massive aeries, practicing pouncing, flapping. Learning the eagle ways.

This youngster fledged a couple of weeks ago. A few days ago, he was spending time back in the aerie and papa eagle was keeping watch again. The past few nights, he has been stationed in the flight training tree. He continues to practice eagle ways by jumping, sometimes flying from branch to branch.

These parents chose their nest and flight training site well. The flight trainer is a quick glide from the nest...just in case. The trees around the trainer tree have many soft branches to break youngster's fall if he loses his balance.

I suspect this family doesn't lose many babies. Junior is perched near the top on the right side of the left-hand tree. The nest is in the lower tree on the right.

Mom returned - without food - just as the sun slipped below the trees along the ridge. This is the time eagle parents bring less food to encourage the youngsters to take longer trips away from the nest and toward the hunting area.

I will be showing several images from my visits with my neighbor eagles at 253 Collective gallery in Tacoma, beginning with an opening (with bird-friendly treats!) on August 18. Details are on my website: For the Birds & the Trees. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eagle fledgling flight practice

Papa eagle watches as mama brings food for Junior.
The last couple of times Padme the wonderdog and I have walked past our neighborhood aerie, everything has been quiet. I just assumed that Junior had fledged and I missed the show. I was a little worried too, though. About 40 percent of eagle fledglings don't survive their first flight.

Mama brings some fish for dinner.
Last week, we got to see mama eagle fly in with one of many meals for Junior. These eagles are wonderful parents - attentive, protective, and nurturing. Papa eagle watched his mate's catch with interest. Sometimes he joins them to share what she brings.

Junior has been "branching" for a few weeks. I wasn't sure if he also had actually tried those wings outside the nest or not.

Last night, I spotted mama eagle at the top of a tree near the nest. I heard Junior but couldn't see him. Then mama flew down to a tree on the other side of the nest, mostly out of my view.

Junior kept talking to his mother. He was sandwiched between two small branches on an adjacent tree. Then he started flapping, all the while talking constantly. And then...liftoff! I wanted to cheer but then remembered that I needed to avoid distracting him. He flew around the grove of trees near the nest - talking the entire time, "look ma! Look ma! LOOK! Can I eat now? I'm tired." Eventually he landed - a little hard - in the tree about 6 feet down from where mama was perched. And he kept talking.

I knocked off a couple of dozen images - all of them good. These are some favorites. The light, for a change, was perfectly bright and golden. Junior is about three months old now. He'll have another three months to learn how to hunt. At least that's the schedule for migrating eagles.

This eagle clan is here year-round. The parents frequently catch up with their kids from earlier broods for synchonized flights, hunting trips, and just enjoying each other. 

It will be a few years before Junior develops the bald eagle's characteristic white head and tail. Bald eagles are usually 3-4 years old when they are matured enough to earn the white feathers. That's also when they look for their lifetime mate.

I'm getting lots of new work ready for a show opening at my new gallery - 253 Collective in Tacoma. Look for invitations this weekend. I'm really pleased with this new collection and hope that my western Washington friends and neighbors will come see it toward the end of this month.

Details about For the Birds and the Trees are on my website.