Sunday Stills: Kinda Backyard #Birding

Hummingbird ready to feed

This week’s Sunday Stills’ post is partially inspired by Lisa’s Weekly Bird Challenge. What kinda birds live or visit in your backyard?

As you read in my post last week, I have enjoyed my backyard as a happy place. Not a huge backyard, but it does the job with the 5 redwood trees I planted which attract a variety of birds. The sunflower seeds and various bird feeders also attract a nice variety of birds and offer a treat to boot!

Blue jay contorts to get some yummy treats!
Bluejay contorts to get some yummy treats!

The Backyard Hums

My hummingbird feeders sing their sweet siren call to the local hummers who nest here most of the year and offer a syrupy sip.

Hummingbird ready to feed
Hummingbird quartet at feeder

In the above image, four thirsty hummingbirds manage to share the feeder.

I tried my hand at the image compare feature of the block editor to show that the squared version for Becky’s KindaSquare challenge doesn’t look as good as the original as seen above, since it cuts out one hummer.

Hummingbird enjoying his shower
Hummer after the rain
Puffed up hummingbird enjoying the rain

Do Kites Fly?

Kite on a wire

Our redwoods are home to nests of White-tailed Kites, a bird of prey from the hawk family.

As recently as the 1940s, this graceful hawk was considered rare and endangered in North America, restricted to a few sites in California and Texas. In recent decades, it has increased greatly in numbers and spread into many new areas.

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/white-tailed-kite
Kites sharing the top of a tree

Each day at twilight they gracefully circle the neighborhood on the hunt for abundant small rodents! The first family of kites moved here 20 years ago.

Kites Birds of Prey

These birds are large, with a wingspan of 35-40 inches! We’ve seen several generations of them over the years and our moderate climate in Northern California keeps them here all year long. I’ve seen as many as 20 filling the skies at sunset as they hunt. Quite a sight.

My images are a tad fuzzy since the sun was setting and the birds are in the branches 300 feet up!

Other Visitors and Other Backyards

Swallow

I’ve kinda considered the Sacramento Delta as our backyard these last 11 years, as we maintain a campsite there all summer. Swallows nest in the spring here and sometimes think it’s OK to nest in our sail shed.

You may remember this cutie from July. A blogger told me that it is Black-headed Grosbeak!

Black headed Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak

Some of these are square images inspired in part by and Becky B’s KindaSquares Challenge. Bird treats and eye candy were also inspired by the Lens-Artists Challenge theme “Quite a Treat.”

I like that Lisa has her weeks planned out with the theme for each type of bird. If you enjoy birding as much as some of your fellow bloggers, please visit her page for more inspiration. How I wish I could capture all these types of birds on her list with my own lens! I’m still holding out for the American Bald Eagle.

Some of these birds have been nesting in some old blog posts and image files. They are happy to be viewed today! I would love to see what kinds of birds visit your backyard and while you are at it, do link to Lisa’s weekly bird challenge!

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Sunday Stills: #Furry and #Feathered Friends

Sunday Stills Fur and Feathers Graphic

Today’s Sunday Stills theme is “fur and feathers” but feel free to add photos of your scaled and slithering friends as well.

Aero loves going to the delta
Aero loves going to the delta

Boykin Spaniel Brodie loves the water
Boykin Spaniel Brodie loves the water

Did you know today is National Animal Rights Day? Many organizations dedicate themselves to the betterment and loving treatment of ALL animals.

According to Christian author Gary Kurtz, who wrote Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates: A Book of Hope for Those Who have Lost a Pet, he writes that “pets are God’s creatures…merely on loan to us.”

With Biblical support, Kurtz suggests that all animals have eternal spirits. As a Christian myself, I believe this to be true, which gives me great comfort knowing that my past, present and future dogs, cats, birds and even fish have a place in God’s eternity. On some spiritual level, I shall see them all again.

Almost every day, I read online from friends and family who grieve a pet who has died. I often recommend this book and have been surprised at the positive responses from those who have read it.

Regardless of your own beliefs in an eternal afterlife, or not, we must treat all creatures on Planet Earth with care and respect.

Of course, I will swat a mosquito or kill a tick that crawls on my skin. Believe it or not, even pesky bugs have a place on Earth.

To illustrate my point, while camping with family two years ago, I almost fell over as I watched my little nephew stomp on an unsuspecting beetle while hiking in a national park. I asked him why he did that, and he replied, “because he was going to bite me.”

I told him that all critters and animals are protected in a national park and he could go to jail for killing bugs and animals (yes, a teeny white lie, but bear with me here). I then asked him, “What if you were just walking along one day and a giant walked up and stepped on you?” His eyes widened with the realization that his eight-year-old imagination allowed.

A little leisure education hurts no one.

Bewildered swallow looking for its nest
Bewildered swallow looking for its nest

This swallow and her mate decided to build their nest in our neighbor’s windsurf sail shed. One of the other fellows who keeps his sails in the shed noticed the partially built nest and knocked it down with a stick, complaining about bird droppings (my word, not his). Luckily it was still under construction, so no eggs or birds were harmed.

It was an abrupt decision, one that I both disagreed with and supported.

On one hand, these swallows build their nests here on Sherman Island in the delta and there are plenty of safe areas in which to build them. On the other, these skittish birds would not have succeeded trying to hatch eggs in a noisy area with us walking in and out of the shed.

In the long run, I guess there is no right way to move a bird nest. They can quickly rebuild one in a safer location.

But these incidents beg the question, how much have humans encroached on natural habitats in the name of progress, lifestyle and leisure?

To what extent do we continue to banish native animals from their own environments due to urbanization?

It is a little sad to think we need organizations to protect Earth’s creatures from harm and violence, mistreatment and misuse.

So, let’s support our fellow creatures today by posting a favorite photo of yours for Sunday Stills!

Please help me promote Sunday Stills so that we can have more talented bloggers participate in this photo challenge, now that the long-time WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge posted its final theme this week.

Sunday Stills Fur and Feathers Graphic

Link up here:

A hearty shout-out to May Sunday Stills Photo Challenge participants!

A Day In the Life
Adventures in Weseland
CactusCatz
Cee’s Photography
Debbie Scott Photography Digital Art
Field Notes From Over The Hill
Feel Purple
Heaven’s Sunshine
Hugh’s Views and News
Idaho Bluebird
IScribler
Light Words
Living with My Ancestors
Misty Roads Blog
Mucho Spanish
NorCal Zen
Now at Home
Proscenium
Retirementally Challenged
Terry’s Desk
This, That and the Other Thing
YasminKhanBlog
zestnzealblog

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A Peek at Creatures Great and Small

Whale shark also plays peek-a-boo

What is lurking just below the surface of the water?

Whale shark also plays peek-a-boo

Why, a gigantic whale shark, of course. Would you like to play Peek -a-boo with the largest animal on planet Earth?

C’mon, there’s nothing to it! Almost two years ago, I had the opportunity to swim with whale sharks on our vacation in Mexico in the Bay of La Paz. You can read more about my experience in What Swimming with Whale Sharks Taught Me.

As you can see by the photo below in my peek-a-boo with the whale shark, my presence didn’t even phase him. When I saw it, though, and knowing ahead of time what I would see, I still screamed into my snorkel because I didn’t think they would swim so close to the surface.

Terri peeks at a whale shark

Not convinced, huh? Maybe a smaller critter?

How about a game of peek-a-boo with nesting, feeding swallows? I must have taken 100 shots with my camera and barely got images that were not blurry.

Swallow nesting season

A swallow impatiently peeks from her nest waiting for her mate to bring some goodies. She appears not to be too disturbed by my presence.

If you are not able to contort your body under a bridge and wait for photo ops (because the swallows flit and dive crazily if disturbed), perhaps taking a quick peek at a hummingbird as it feeds is more your style. You’ve got to look fast, though, a few peeks is all you might get!

A quick peek under the eves you spot this hummer.

I suppose all creatures play peek-a-boo regardless of their size!

These photos help illustrate the theme PEEK for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. Come take a peek at what other photographers shared this week.

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A Somewhat Transient Migration

Swallow fly in chaos around their nests.

Swallow fly in chaos around their nests.

Perhaps the famed migration of the Swallows from their winter home in Argentina to San Juan Capistrano isn’t as fleeting as the theme Transient suggests, but try taking photos of them near their nests and transience takes on a whole new meaning.

The nesting swallows flit back and forth so quickly that trying to capture one or several in a photo is a little ridiculous. Especially since I was precariously perched on the levee under the launch near where we windsurf. As soon as I dared step into their realm, they, and I mean hundreds of them, went flying, diving with acrobatic precision only the Flying Wallendas could execute!

In all 40 of my mostly failed images, I managed to highlight the nesting swallow (upper left corner of photo above) in most of the shots. I figured this was a nesting female patiently waiting for daddy bird to bring yummy treats to the nest.

You get the idea of the launch area in this photo.

Swallows flitting back and forth under their nesting home

It’s a good thing no one has bothered with these nests (as if they could)!

According to an article in the Orange County Register, swallows don’t return just to San Juan Capistrano – they also nest in San Clemente and other nearby communities, and local officials warn against messing with any active nests.

In fact, the California Department of Fish and Game considers Feb. 15 to Sept. 1 to be swallows nesting season.

“Completed nests during this breeding season cannot be touched without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” the announcement said.

Birdwatching as a hobby is very rewarding. With a great camera, one can capture wonderful images of birds. In this case however, I only really discovered all these swallows because I took my stand-up paddleboard under the bridge and thoroughly disturbed them a few years ago. Sometimes fishermen will stand near here, causing the swallows to fly around in a ruckus!

The WordPress weekly photo challenge begins every Wednesday. Anyone can participate!

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