Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recent Birding Photos

This Turkey Vulture was flying low over head recently at my lunch-hour birding patch. Circling...circling...waiting for me to die perhaps.  Actually, All About Birds discusses how they fly low to pick up the scent of carrion. Though normally confident in my person hygiene, this Turkey Vulture had me questioning whether or not I smelled like rotting flesh.  This time of year, I'll occasionally see vultures in large "kettles" riding thermals and heading south.
Immature White-crowned Sparrow - the rufous cap sometimes confuses birders leading to mis-identifications.  Note the plain throat, breast, and belly, and uniform orange-pink bill color.  In size, they are significantly larger than Chipping Sparrows and lack the strong dark contrasting eye-line.  White-throated Sparrows have a much stronger white throat contrast.  Field Sparrows and American Tree Sparrows can superficially look like immature White-crowned Sparrows too.    In the intermountain west, it is always worth your while to browse through the flocks of White-crowned Sparrows (they're almost always in flocks) looking for potential Golden-crowned Warblers.  My only Golden-crowned was during a Christmas Bird Count in Caldwell, Idaho when Jay Carlisle picked one out of flock of White-crowns.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)  - I find Yellow-rumped Warblers to be very challening to photograph.  First, they never stay still for more than moment.  Second, they seem to prefer the dense foliage which keeps them generally in the shade. Like most of the other warblers, their colors are more subdued in the fall.

Below are eBird sightings maps of Audubon's (Yellow-rumped Warbler subspecies with yellow throats) on the left and Myrtle's (white throats) on the right.  Myrtle's are more widespread, but in the intermountain west, you are much more likely to find Audubon's.  I'm still hoping for that armchair life bird if DNA analysis shows these as being distinct species.

Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler eBird Sightings Map
Myrtle's Yellow-rumped Warbler eBird Sightings Map

Photographing the Bird Photographer Paul Higgins on the Antelope Island Causeway - The Great Salt Lake and Fremont Island in the background .  Paul was photographing the recent rare to Utah Harlequin Duck using the beautiful fall mustard colored flowers of the rabbit brush as a natural blind.


  1. Great captures! LOVE that Turkey Vulture :)

  2. Funny about your TV wanting to take a close look at you. I had the same thing happen to me. It turned out to be a dumb juvenile, recognizable by its gray face. Thanks for posting the YRW map. We only get the Myrtles around here.

  3. Terrific series! Cool Turkey Vulture image. I've been seeing a lot of Yellow-rumped Warblers (Myrtles) lately in our area. The immature White-crowned Sparrow really does look like a Chipping Sparrow.

  4. @Kerri @Hilke @Julie G. - Thanks so much for the comments! Isn't that interesting about the Yellow-rumped Warbler subspecies maps?

  5. Oh...you are making me so homesick with that photo of the Great Salt Lake!!! I miss Antelope Island!

  6. @Kathie - you'll just have come back and visit. Maybe we could have a BwBTC event at Antelope Island sometime.

    @Tina - Thanks for visiting Birding is Fun! and commenting!

  7. Great post and the map is great. The Turkey Vulture is cool, I get to see a lot near my neighborhood thanks to the hunters leaving deer scraps behind. Happy Biridng!

  8. Wow ! these are very beautiful bird pictures !!