Forbidden Fruit

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This week’s photo, taken February 13, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE, an uncommon visitor to the west side of Washington state, and a rare species here during the winter months.

I suspect that this individual was munching on snowberries (the white out-of-focus dots in the background of this image). Apparently, the fruit of the Snowberry plant is poisonous to humans, so unless you are a Townsend’s Solitaire, you should consider consuming some other type of fruit.

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

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Year of the Bohemian

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This week’s photo, taken January 20, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a BOHEMIAN WAXWING, a rare visitor to western Washington.

The BOHEMIAN WAXWING, the slightly larger cousin of the more common Cedar Waxwing, hasn’t been seen in the greater Seattle area since 2010, but this winter many local birders have flocked to Magnuson Park and Discovery Park to view and celebrate this gorgeous species. I saw my first Bohemian Waxwing of my life at Magnuson on January 10 of this year, then 10 days later at Richmond Beach Park, I found 4 Bohemian Waxwings feeding with a large group of American Robins and European Starlings.

Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings are adorned with the same black facial mask, head crest and yellow tip on the tail, but that’s about where the similarities end. While the Cedar Waxwing has a yellowish tinge to its body, the Bohemian’s body is gray. The Bohemian also has a bit of white on the wing feathers, plus a splash of yellow. Perhaps the most noticeable difference: the Bohemian has a reddish-brown face, as well as a reddish-brown underside to the tail.

So, the next time you spot a flock of Cedar Waxwings, take a good look at each individual bird, especially this winter, and you may discover that you’re looking at a different kind of waxwing.

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

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Ruby

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This week’s photo, taken January 4, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a male RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET flashing a bit of its head color.

Most of the time, the brightly colored crown of the male RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET is not visible. It might reveal it to impress a female, to intimidate another male or a possible predator, or when it wishes to show off for a bird photographer.

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

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Wave Runner

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This week’s photo, taken December 26, 2016 on Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore near Titusville, Florida, features a SANDERLING, a small shorebird that famously plays ‘chicken’ with incoming waves.

If you are old enough to remember The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, you may recall them showing video footage of a small bird running along the beach, while Johnny rapidly tapped his pencil on his desk to mimic the sound of the Sanderling’s feet contacting the ground. It doesn’t matter that in real life we’d never be able to hear the tiny bird’s feet hit the soft sand, especially with the constant roar of the ocean. All that matters is that it was a funny bit that Carson did on numerous occasions, and he loved doing it.

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

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Another Headshot

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This week’s photo, taken December 28, 2016 at Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Florida, features a headshot of a TRI-COLORED HERON, a common medium-sized heron of the Southeastern United States.

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

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Tame

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This week’s photo, taken December 28, 2016 at Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Florida, features a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT up close.

We spent the last week of 2016 in Florida, visiting my brother and his family in Titusville (central Florida), and then venturing as far south as Key Largo, where the snorkeling was great fun.

As you probably noticed by this photo, some of the birds at Green Cay Wetlands are rather tame, allowing a close approach by humans. If you are ever in the area (one hour north of Miami), stroll the 1.5 mile long boardwalk at Green Cay. The wetlands is wonderful, and it’s FREE!

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

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Tap, Tap, Tap

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This week’s photo, taken December 21, 2016 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER drilling a neat row of horizontal holes on the trunk of a conifer.

I heard this RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER before I saw it. The loud tapping indicated a woodpecker was nearby, but I didn’t find the ‘avian carpenter’ until I walked around to the other side of the tree. The sapsucker was busy with its wood work, so it paid me no mind as I fired off a flurry of photos.

Bird cards and prints for the holidays: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com

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