Monday, February 4, 2013

Grab the Bird Book

"Who are those guys anyway?"
                                   Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Photo: Bufflehead, drab females and striking males, in winter plumage.
"Quick grab the binoculars... pick up a camera... find the bird books", and then poof! at some sudden unseen/unheard signal, an entire flock suddenly dives and disappears. Some days I'm lucky. I have my camera in hand when a sea bird pops back up, close enough to the boat to grab a shot or two before it dives again or speeds away. Those little guys are fast!

I can identify a Barrow's Goldeneye on the water with some certainty, it's distinctive spots and yellow eye provide major clues. But a quick glance at a black and white pattern on a fast-moving bird in flight might make me think "loon" instead. 

Cormorants have a distinctive shape, their silhouette alone identifies them in flight and at rest. There's no question who has claimed the red buoy below as their temporary hangout.

From a distance I still hesitate over some birds that should be easy to name. When seen through a telephoto lens, the vibrant coloration on the head and neck of this bird clearly shows it's a Bufflehead. Sigh. Identification isn't that easy when birds won't stay still. 


  1. Nature got creative with plumage patterns and colors, and occasionally threw in a sense of humor.


I enjoy reading your comments, so please leave a friendly message. Comments are moderated so it may take a while for your note to appear.