Easy Tropical Birding

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This week’s photo, taken February 23, 2011 from the Asa Wright Nature Centre on the island of Trinidad, features a male PURPLE HONEYCREEPER.

If you wish to take a tropical birding trip, but you don’t know where to go, consider heading to the Asa Wright Nature Centre on the island of Trinidad. The centre has an extensive set up of bird feeders conveniently located just off the veranda of the main building.

Eight years ago, when I spent a week on Trinidad & Tobago (and 4 nights at Asa Wright), I didn’t work too hard to capture the above image of a Purple Honeycreeper – as well as photos of other outrageously colorful birds. I simply sat in a chair on the porch, rested my elbows on the railing, and aimed my camera at the tropical treats that perched a short distance away and often at eye level.

If you get restless from sitting, you could wander just a few minutes along the paths of the property and find some most unusual species, such as Manakins, Oilbirds and Bellbirds. However, I spent most of my time on the balcony, plopped in a chair in the shade. I certainly didn’t want to exert too much energy while capturing tropical bird images. After all, I was on vacation.

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

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Calm Air

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This week’s photo, taken December 12, 2017 at Richmond Beach in Shoreline, WA, features a male RED-BREASTED MERGANSER on a windless day.

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Earning Its Stripes

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This week’s photo, taken November 27, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a first winter WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW.

Perhaps by spring, its reddish-brown and gray head stripes will be replaced by black and white streaks, a sign of adulthood. The black and white feathers will grow in gradually, similar to the appearance of that gray hair that sneaks up on some of us as we age. Of course, I’m not going to mention any names, because you know who you are.

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Chin Strap

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This week’s photo, taken December 16, 2017 from the Edmond’s pier in Edmonds, WA, features a PACIFIC LOON proudly displaying its chin strap.

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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Blink Less

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This week’s photo, taken November 17, 2017 from our bedroom window here in Seattle, WA, features a rare bird for our yard, a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. The last and only other time we’ve spotted one in our yard was 4 years ago.

This one didn’t linger long; it took off when the Dark-eyed Juncos decided to depart. The sparrow’s brief visit is a reminder that we could miss a cool sighting – in the blink of an eye. So, here’s my birding tip for today: “blink less, see more.”

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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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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