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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nights and Nighthawk

Most of my photography has happened in the evenings lately, including on the 4th of July when I set up the tripod and experimented with some long (2.5, 5, and 10 second) exposures of the fireworks. Here are a couple of my favorite shots, taken right from the back deck of the houseboat:

I love the branching effect in this next cropped photo. Someone pointed out this one looks kind of like a palm tree:

Here's a shot of last night's sunset - scenic moments like this epitomize San Juan summers for me:

While enjoying the sunset I also heard and then saw a common nighthawk (184), my first addition to the year list in about a month's time. This locally uncommon species is always a real treat to find - I hope to find a few more this month, when they're easiest to find here. With the slow going when it comes to picking up new birds in the height of summer, Dave sits comfortably ahead at 190.

A couple other birdy notes - here's a photo of a house wren I took last week, the first time I've successfully photographed this species. While they often sing from a prominent perch, they've always been too distant for me to photograph in the past, so I was happy when this one popped out of the brush onto a nearby rock for a moment.

 I've been a bit heartbroken to watch the attentive dark-eyed junco parents feeding a couple of brown-headed cowbird chicks at my feeders this week:

For those unfamiliar with the brown-headed cowbird, the story is that they were historically associated with the buffalo of the plains, where they would feed on insects kicked up by the herds. Since they followed the herds, they were unable to stay in a nesting site for the duration of the breeding season, and thus evolved to be brood parasites, which means that they lay their eggs in nests of other bird species, leaving their chicks to be raised by unsuspecting foster parents. A single female cowbird can parasitize up to 30-40 nests in a breeding season. Sometimes she removes eggs of native birds, while in other cases chicks out-compete native nestlings for food or even push them out of the nest. With clearing of habitat caused by logging and development, the cowbird has been able to expand its range further west, and now targets numerous species that haven't co-existed with cowbirds in the past and thus haven't had time to develop adaptations to avoid brood parasitism. Many species that are declining, including numerous warblers and vireos, are doing so in part because of the impact of cowbirds on locally native bird populations.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

Those fireworks look quite spectacular Monika :-)

Looks like our medling ways have caused another mis-match for nature - when will we learn, I suspect when it's too late :-(