Titanic Talons

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This week’s photo, taken June 23, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features an OSPREY (left) and a BALD EAGLE (right).

What would you do if a large bird of prey, an OSPREY, for example, was dive bombing you from above? Well, if you were a BALD EAGLE in flight, you would likely roll onto your back, in mid-air, and extend your titanic talons skyward. That’s exactly what this eagle did several times as the osprey repeatedly swooped from above.

From my vantage point on the ground, it was quite an exciting air show, and it was probably even more exciting for the aerial combatants.

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Same Old Song

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This week’s photo, taken June 5, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW on its singing perch.

The WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW begins its song with a long whistled note, and belts out a sweet song that’s quite easy for bird-watchers and bird-listeners to recognize because it’s always the same tune.

Yes, there might be some slight regional variation. Here in Seattle, I usually hear an added note at the end of the song that I didn’t hear when I lived in San Diego and northern Baja California. Nevertheless, the difference is so slight that there’s no question who’s playing that familiar melody.

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Where’s Waldo?

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This week’s photo, taken May 12, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a COMMON YELLOWTHROAT in a sea of yellow.

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Aerobic Birding

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This week’s photo, taken June 2, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW.

If you’ve ever stood on a bluff attempting to photograph a fast-moving swallow, while the tiny jet-shaped bird zips by, swooping and banking and frequently turning, yet never advertising when or in what direction it’s going to turn next, you know how crazy and challenging a task that can be. You, the bird photographer, move like an orchestra conductor, but instead of swaying up and down and twisting side to side while waving a lightweight baton, you lead the symphony with a long lens camera glued to your eyeball.

If it’s swallows you are chasing, flight photography can be quite the physical exercise. Your heart rate increases, you start breathing faster, and the whole experience feels exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Most of your shots of high speed, hard to follow swallows may produce pictures of blurred birds, parts of birds, or sky with no birds in sight. You just hope that if you keep plugging along, you might be rewarded with one decent image – or at least a decent workout.

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A Light Dusting

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This week’s photo, taken May 24, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. Look closely and you may detect a light dusting of orange on top of its head.

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White-collared Robin

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This week’s photo, taken April 21, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a male AMERICAN ROBIN with some plumage variation.

If a bird produces less melanin pigment than usual, the result can be a bird with a few feathers or perhaps many feathers that are white instead of the expected colors of that species. If all of a bird’s feathers are white, and the bird has red eyes, then that bird is albino. The robin in this photo is partial albino, or leucistic.

An albino or leucistic bird can face more than the usual challenges in life. It may be less able to blend in with its surroundings, and that increased visibility may make it more prone to predation. Since it looks “different,” it might also have more difficulty finding a mate.

I first noticed this “White-collared” Robin in the spring of 2016. Toward the end of that summer, it moved out of the park for many months, but now it has returned and appears to be busy with nesting duties. Lately, it’s been pulling worms out of the grass and then disappearing into the brush, apparently to feed its young. This robin seems to be doing just fine.

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Common Migrant

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This week’s photo, taken May 17, 2017 at Richmond Beach Park in Shoreline, WA, features a WARBLING VIREO.

After spending the winter in Mexico or Central America, this lovely species migrates north each spring in big numbers. Many WARBLING VIREOS nest here in Washington state, while many others pass through our state and breed somewhere in Canada.

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