Welcome to Week #17 of the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #17 challenge is Macro or Close Up images of birds! Some of my favorite shots are going to be shared in this post. A few have made appearances before and some are new to my blog world.
Macro photography is close-up photography of small subjects. Mostly bugs and flowers get the spotlight, but today we are doing it on Bird Weekly. Macro is an extreme close-up, but for this post, any close-up will do. I know many of you don’t have a macro lens and that is okay. If you can crop a photo on your phone or use an image software program like Photoshop, that works just fine for me as that is how I do it. I never want a bird to feel nervous because I’m too close to them.
Upcoming challenges can be found on my Bird Weekly Challenge Page.
The feature image is a photo of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher chick that fell out of the nest.
The Black-crowned Night-Heron nests and roosts in colonies in trees. They are a stocky bird in comparison with their long legged relatives. This is the most widespread heron in the world. They live in fresh, salt and brackish wetlands. They are believed to be monogamous. The male will flaunt his stuff to find a mate by bowing and raising the long plume on his head. Both male and female incubate the eggs and share in raising the chicks. The young leave the nest at the age of 1 month, moving on foot through the vegetation. They learn to fly when they are 6 weeks old and disperse widely.
The Great Egret is a large white wading bird with a long curved neck. Easier to get a whole fish down to the gut. It’s dagger like bill can stab its prey for easier capture. This bird gets to be 37-40 inches (94-104 cm) in length. The wingspan is 51.6-57.1 inches (131-145 cm). They can be found in both freshwater and saltwater habitats and will often nest in colonies where other egrets, herons or spoonbills nest.
The Little Blue Heron is easily spotted in his blue and purple tones. This bird is smaller than most of his relatives at 22.1-29.1 inches (56-74 cm) in length. Found in the wetlands where other waders tend to hunt for fish, the LBH as I take shorthand, are patient and considered a stand and wait predator. They walk very slowly while watching for fish and other small morsels of life in shallow water. One cool fact is they have a row of built-in “teeth” along their middle toe that is used as a grooming comb. Got to look their best at all times!
The Anhinga has earned a couple of nicknames. “Water Turkey because of its turkeylike tail and “snake bird” for its long snakelike neck. Anhingas are diving birds, but when they surface, they slither through the water with just their head and neck visible. Anhingas have to perch themselves in a tree or on a branch where they have to dry their feathers. They were not born with waterproof feathers like most birds. The name Anhinga comes from the Tupi Indians in Brazil meaning “devil bird” or “evil spirit of the woods”.
The Limpkin is found in Florida, parts of Mexico, the Caribbean & in South America. They have started moving into states along the Gulf Coast as well. They are tropical wetland birds that specialize in eating apple snails. Their bill acts like tweezers to get into the right-handed curve of the snail’s shell. Limpkins hunt both day & night and will leave piles of shells near the banks of freshwater wetlands. They supposedly got their name by some early European settlers when they observed this species gait as a limp. The Limpkin is the only member of its taxonomic family, Aramidae. They resemble herons and ibises in their body form, but are considered to be more closely related to the rails and cranes. And…by the way….if you ever get near a family, the screaming calls they let out can be ear piercing. Take a listen on this podcast page.
The Gray Catbird belongs to the genus Dumetella which means “small thicket”. This is where you will find these gray birds with their black mohawk. They are hard to photograph as they don’t sit for long. They are relatives to mockingbirds and thrashers and like both of those species will sing for long periods of time when they are not alluding humans. I had to use my stealth mode to get this photo.
In 2017, just about a month after Frank & I got back from our honeymoon and still high on our trip out west, we decided to take advantage of the cool weather in May and went birding. Shock, I know! We drove out to the University of North Florida (UNF) and took a small hike on the trail. There is a footbridge that takes you to a small island bordering the lake. There were small songbirds everywhere, flitting from tree to tree. We couldn’t get our binoculars settled on any single bird. Some kind of frenzy was happening, yet we had no idea the reason for the panic these birds were experiencing. Their calls were like nothing we had ever heard. We approached the area with caution to investigate the source of the problem. Frank went in one direction and I in another. After about 5 minutes, I heard a small peep. I proceeded slowly towards the sound that came in long increments. Using a great deal of patience, I moved a bit closer to where I thought I heard it. The wind was blowing 10-15 mph, the trees were rustling at the top and the birds still screaming above us. I had to will myself to listen for this little bird, whatever it was. I approached the base of a tall pine tree and looked down, there it was. A baby blue-gray gnatcatcher. I 1/2 whispered and 1/2 yelled for Frank to come over as I was waving trying to get his attention. He couldn’t hear me due to the wind. After a minute or so, I reached him and had him come take a look. The baby bird must have fallen out of the nest, thanks to the high winds. There was no way to get that bird back up in the tree. So we made a decision to scoop it up and take it home. It wouldn’t survive otherwise. A hawk would certainly have it for a snack.
I cradled it in the palm of my hands all the way back home with it’s “peep” getting louder and louder! It has imprinted on me and now I’m Momma! As soon as we got home, I tried to contact Beaks (Bird Emergency Aid & Kare Sanctuary) here in Jacksonville, Florida not far from Little Talbot Island State Park. It was a Saturday and no one was answering the phone. I then found another rehab facility in St. Augustine and I was able to speak to someone there. She told me to mix some soften dog food with a little boiled egg. I created a scrumptious meal for my new found friend and hand fed this baby throughout the day every two hours. On Sunday, we made a trip out to Wild Birds Unlimited and picked up some mealworms. Oh, this little gnatcatcher was being fed a feast good enough for royalty.
I didn’t want to give this little baby up. It is against the law to keep a wild bird without a license. Since I don’t have a license, on Monday, I had to take my baby bird to the animal hospital who takes care of the orphaned birds until Beaks picks them up within a day or two. After dropping off my precious cargo, I cried all the way to work!
Frank was able to get in touch with Beaks several weeks later and this little guy was released to live a normal life.
Until next week…Week #18 – Birds Starting with an “A”