At the Bath

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This week’s photo, taken October 15, 2017 from our bedroom window in Northeast Seattle, WA, features a CEDAR WAXWING at one of our backyard bird baths.

It’s that time of year to remind you that my bird photos make lovely holiday cards or gifts, phone cases and prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

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Flies Backwards

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This week’s photo, taken October 8, 2017 on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, Ecuador, features an immature MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD stretching its wings.

From the title of this post, you might think I’m talking about a hummingbird, which can indeed fly backwards. However, a MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD can also fly backwards, and if I didn’t see it for myself at the Puerto Ayora fish market on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, then I probably wouldn’t believe it.

Thanks to its lightweight body, the frigatebird maneuvers incredibly well in the air, despite its very long wings (or perhaps because of them). A frigatebird can fly through the fish market, overshoot a tasty piece of fish on the counter, stop and hover momentarily, and then actually back up in mid-air by changing the angle of its wings and increasing the thrust of its wingbeats. Then, it shifts into forward flight again, reaches down with its long bill and snatches the snack left on the counter – all without ever touching the ground.

Wow. It’s amazing what some birds will do for food.

Yes, it’s that time of year to remind you that my bird photos make lovely holiday cards or gifts, phone cases and prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

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Blue Feet

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This week’s photo, taken October 8, 2017 on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, Ecuador, features a BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY and its chick, which hopes to grow up some day to also have blue feet.

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Patience

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This week’s photo, taken October 5, 2017 at the Puerto Ayora fish market on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, Ecuador, features 4 BROWN PELICANS patiently waiting for some scraps of fish to be tossed their way. They didn’t have to wait long.

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Chestnut Crown

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This week’s photo, taken October 8, 2017 on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos, Ecuador, features a MANGROVE YELLOW WARBLER, a common bird in the Galapagos that is a subspecies of Yellow Warbler, a common warbler of the United States and Canada. The “Mangrove” subspecies that resides year-round in the Caribbean and Central and South America often has a chestnut-colored crown (as in this photo), and sometimes the entire head is dipped in chestnut.

In 2009 a Mangrove Yellow Warbler with an entirely chestnut-colored head was discovered next to a freeway in an industrial area of San Diego, California. On the day that I showed up to see this extremely rare visitor, it was causing so much excitement in the San Diego birding community that the police showed up to determine why so many people were gathering in that area.

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Catching a Wave

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This week’s photo, taken October 4, 2017 on Espanola Island in the Galapagos, Ecuador, features a WAVED ALBATROSS. Nearly the entire world population of this species breeds on this one island in the Galapagos.

Naturally, if you travel all the way to Peru to visit Machu Picchu, you might as well spend an additional week on a boat cruising a few islands in the Galapagos in the neighboring country of Ecuador. We spent 8 days on the Majestic yacht, bird-watching, snorkeling, hiking and eating on a daily basis. A tough assignment, but someone had to do it.

The wildlife of the Galapagos is famous for having little or no fear of humans. Therefore, I left my telephoto lens at home and took all photos on this trip with a tiny Canon Powershot SX620 camera.

Bird cards, phone cases and prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

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Blue Eye Rings

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This week’s photo, taken September 29, 2017 in Aguas Calientes, Peru, features a BLUE-NAPED CHLOROPHONIA.

If you are bird-watching for the first time in a far away country, you are bound to see birds you’ve never seen before, and you might also encounter some you’ve never heard of – like a Chlorophonia. What the heck is that? It sounds like a condition.

“Doctor, what do I have?”

“You have Chlorophonia.”

“Oh no, that sounds really bad.”

“Don’t worry, it’s not serious; however, eventually you will develop blue rings around your eyes.”

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