Saturday, June 30, 2012

Two baby eagles

Both babies are in the center; just the top of the head seen on right.
It's so exciting to see that both eaglets are in the nest! I spotted one baby and what looked like the top of another baby's head on Tuesday. They're about the same color as the tree bark, so if it's overcast (as it often is here), they're tough to spot. Then mama flew in and kept watch from the tree above and next to the nest. I was sure I heard two young eagle voices from the aerie.

The next night, one was practicing some "branching," which is part of eagle ground school, or make that nest school. They leap from branch to branch around the nest, testing wings, talons, and balance.

Timing seems to be about what it was last year, so I think we'll see first flight in about a month. And we'll hope to see two eagles fledge successfully.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Growing baby eagle

Our new baby eagle is growing fast! Almost full grown with downy fluff all gone. I haven't seen her "branching" yet but she likes watching the human scene below.

Still no sign of the second eaglet that we saw last month. The nest is quite large, so it's not easy to see the far side of the nest. So...maybe the other baby is there. I visited the nest last night and saw a tiny portion of a eaglet's head in one of about eight frames from different spots.

Papa eagle was on duty last night, so mama was probably out and about. Mama and papa are spending time farther from the nest but not too far. This is the time the baby practices for her first flight. Let's hope it goes well. About 40 percent of juvenile bald eagles don't survive that flight. Mama and papa will bring food but less often to encourage their youngster to try her wings soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Birds of many colors

Female rufous hummingbird

Many different birds are visiting the front yard birdie spa now. And lots of babies. Apparently the folks showed their youngsters where to pick up a quick meal while they learn the ways of birds. The baby pine siskin perched on the side of the birdbath for half an hour. He fell backward into the water, got surprised, jumped back out, and fluffed out like he meant to do that.

Baby pine siskin
Strategically placed "hummer magnets" are bringing in my favorite birds but they are wise to human ways. I'm going to have to find ways to disguise myself when the light is optimal because the hummers can also see me on the inside of the window! A pair of rufous hummingbirds – one female and one male – have taken ownership of the feeders and the surrounding flowers. And the female has taken to feeding on flowers on the far side of the plants, so it's harder to get a good shot.

Male and female gold finches, and larger red crossbill on left.

Male purple finch

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Staying close to the nest

We visited our favorite eagles nest a couple of times last week but haven't seen both babies at the same time the way we did the week before. Here's hoping that the nest is so spacious and deep that we can only see one baby at a time.

Watching the nest from above.
Mama and papa are spending more time away from the nest but close by. As the youngsters get their "real" feathers, they need more space to practice their wings. In another week or so, we should start seeing the babies "branching," where they leap from branch to branch, trying out wings, and pouncing on invisible prey. I photographed last year's youngster while branching last July.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Eagle teamwork

Could only see one baby, hoping the other one's ok.
Unlike some other species of birds – notably hummingbirds – bald eagle mates work as a team to rear their young. Including incubating the eggs, although the mothers do that most of the time. The eaglets have a tough enough time once they get their "training-wheel" wings. About 40 percent don't survive their first flight.

Papa leaves his sentry post as mama finishes helping babies eat.
If a mate dies before baby eagles fledge, the babies will likely starve. Before babies grow out of their fluffy gray down, usually mama stays in the nest, occasionally relieved by papa who does most of the hunting. More and more, babies are left alone in the nest but a parent is always watching nearby, ready to intervene if there are any problems. When babies are old enough to "branch" – literally jumping from branch to branch around the nest, testing wings and talons – the parents might fly off a little farther, sometimes together.

Mama leaves the nest, follows papa, then circles back to the lookout tree he just left.
The baby we saw tonight is still shedding its gray down. We didn't see her sibling. Maybe he was sacked out at the other side of their massive aerie. It's really a giant playpen with guardrails that are tough to see over and, hopefully, protects babies from falling out. I'm gradually adding new bald eagle and snowy owl images to my Talons Gallery. Let me know if you have favorites you'd like me to add.

Curious about the funny looking flightless birds on the street below.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Birds of a feather

Male Anna's hummingbird shares an imaginary branch with a female bald eagle
Maybe bald eagles and hummingbirds aren't exactly birds of a feather but these two birds were in the same airspace at the same time. I was photographing mama eagle who was perched at the top of a tree and then flew off, circled and returned to another tree.

As I brought my camera down, I spotted an Anna's hummingbird at the top of a tree close to me. Then he whizzed past me to another tree across the street. All of this bird action happened in less than 10 minutes.

These are my first rough attempts at photo illustrations. I think they all have potential but will need a bit more to be cohesive works. Check out photo-montage and photo-illustrations in my Esoterica Gallery and Fantasy Flowers Gallerty.