Green Herons in winter

Green Herons in winter
Apparently Green Herons like to poke their long noses into everything in winter. I first found one hanging out in my yard a couple of Novembers ago; today, while searching for other things, I saw this one in a corner of the yard where the grass is longer. I’m guessing it’s going after the lizards ...

New backyard bird: Downy Woodpecker, or why native plants love birds (and vice versa)

New backyard bird: Downy Woodpecker, or why native plants love birds (and vice versa)
From time to time the native plants in my yard, which I do my best to foster, suffer from an overabundance of a certain tiny insect: scale. These insects aren’t scary to most people—they don’t bite, they don’t fly up and startle you, they don’t even move after they hunker down in their chosen spot to ...

Early spring birding in the front yard

Early spring birding in the front yard
It may be only Presidents’ Day on the calendar, but the weather down here in south Florida is nice and the birds are enjoying it. Was outside doing some early morning gardening on this blessed day off work and I heard the R2D2-like witchety watchety-doo of a White-Eyed Vireo across the street. Ran inside for ...

Birds of Green Cay

Birds of Green Cay
Every Saturday after Thanksgiving for the last several years I’ve led the local Audubon Society’s field trip to one of the constructed wetlands in central Palm Beach County: Green Cay. It’s always fun to visit there because the birds know that the people never leave the boardwalk so they’re very tame. Photographers, well aware of ...

New yard bird: Green Heron

New yard bird: Green Heron
The week before Thanksgiving continues to be busy at the homestead. On Tuesday and Wednesday—both rainy, windy mornings—we had a special visit from a new bird for the yard: Butorides virescens, the Green Heron. It’s a nice little marsh bird, but rather uncommon here so far from the nearest canal or other permanent wetland. We ...

New backyard bird: Nyctanassa violacea, the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 1

New backyard bird: <em>Nyctanassa violacea</em>, the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
You never know when something new and unforeseen is going to drop in, but that’s what keeps you going back outside. My back yard is small. Not tiny, but small. There isn’t a lot of lawn, and there isn’t any water apart from the pool, which is completely surrounded by a rather inhospitable (to birds) ...

Chimney Swifts return (no photos this time): UPDATE: Now with photos!

Chimney Swifts return (no photos this time): UPDATE: Now with photos!
For the past few days I’ve been out in the back yard trying to track down as many of the abundant damselflies as I can (four species so far: fragile and Rambur’s forktails, and Everglades and southern sprites). All this time in the great outdoors has been accompanied by some great natural soundtracks—the piercing call ...

Shooting through glass doors

Shooting through glass doors
When you have the opportunity for a photo of a bird in a nice setting, you run for your camera. This Northern Cardinal was singing in the starburst and bougainvillea on our neighbor’s property, in perfect view of our glass doors in back. So I went and grabbed my camera and fired off a few ...

Bird on a wire

Bird on a wire
This Valentine’s Day I was prowling around the back yard at lunch time as usual, camera in hand. I had the insect-shooting rig (macro lens, flash kit) because noon is normally a pretty poor time for shooting birds. But you never know… I was in the corner near the firebush when I heard the rapid ...

Mob scene, Screech-Owl style

Mob scene, Screech-Owl style
Everyone’s heard of flash mobs by now—you know, those social media–inspired and -coordinated events where a group of smartphone-wielding people with too much time on their hands descend on an unsuspecting locale and do something silly/creative/fun/tragic? Well, birds have been doing mob scenes since long before our hominid ancestors descended from the trees. And photographers ...