Sunday, September 26, 2010


A summer fish kill at Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery attracted...what else?  Vultures! 
The two types of Vultures-- Turkey (above) and Black (below) were present and accounted for.  The Black Vulture shares a branch with some Wood Storks.
There's no mistaking the differences between the two types of Vultures.  The Turkey one has the red head.  This one has some weird stuff going on around its eyes. 
The Wood Storks didn't mind the Vultures being around. The Black Vulture's wingspan is around five feet.  The Wood Stork's is a bit larger at five and a half feet.
I read this about Vultures:  "Decay is their ally, softening the bodies of large animals so that they can be picked clean."  I'm not touching the cemetery anologies!
"But an old carcass can be a messy meal, and so it is that the vulture's head is naked, unfeathered-- not pretty perhaps, but beautifully suited to the way this hardworking bird makes its living." (Quotes are from the Reader's Digest "Book of North American Birds")
Vultures-- nature's clean up crew.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Downy Woodpeckers

December 2010- I added these two photos of a male Downy Woodpecker taken recently in my backyard. The Downy is one of my favorite backyard birds.  I've put out extra suet and this large food block, which they really take to. 
Thus is the best closeup shot I've taken to date capturing the male's distinctive red spot.  What I like about the Downy too is they're not as skiddish as many other birds.  I was maybe eight feet away when I took these, standing out in the open.  It knew I was there and didn't fly away.  Gotta like that!
Previous Posting:
For weeks now I've been trying hard to get down with the Downy Woodpeckers that visit my backyard for the suet I keep out there. 

They find the suet quite tasty and are back and forth on my three set ups numerous times daily.
I must admit I sought help from birding friends in identifying this small salt and pepper bird.  I had never heard of the Downy Woodpecker species, thinking this couldn't be a 'pecker because it is so small. 
I became especially intrigued by the Downy when I began noticing the red spot on the male's head. 
I like the "W" on the back of this guy's head-- "W" as in Woodpecker I guess!
I've been setting a chair behind an azalea shrub to try to stay hidden but there have been occasions when I've been even closer and more open and the Downy still comes down for a treat

It has just a little, bitty mouth!

The Downy Woodpecker has been a very challenging litte bird to photograph.  I've deleted many, many out-of-focus, poorly lighted pix.  Patience and persistience have been needed to get down with the Downy! 
Unique bird this Downy Woodpecker.  Keep coming around my yard.  I'll make sure there's always suet for you!  October 2010- Just added the photo below.  A Downy Woodpecker in my backyard and a golfer in the background. 

For more on Downy Woodpeckers check this cool site:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dragon Flies- Creepy Beauties

What a treat it was when this Dragonfly patiently posed for pictures in my backyard.   
I had never really examined one of these insects up close like this. But how intricate and beautiful they are.  I tried to identify this type of Dragonfly but didn't have any success-- not suspecting at all that there are dozens of types. 
The wings with their black tips are a really cool feature. Its coloring is an attractive mix of black, yellow and white. The eyes behind the "goggles" don't miss a thing.
I think this one knows it's hot and doesn't mind being photographed and admired.
The Dragonfly-- fierce name, fierce look.  Kind of friendly too.