The Curve-billed Thrasher usually stays 100 feet away. This shy bird has a sweet disposition and will serenade you...at a distance. That's why I was surprised when this one landed on a nearby cactus. He didn't sing, and he didn't stay, but I still felt blessed.
I was waiting for a plain little bird on the ground to hop into camera range when this Acorn Woodpecker landed on a nearby tree. I quickly turned my camera towards this more colorful bird and got this shot. He soon flew out of camera range, proving again there is no substitute for being prepared.
This male Bushtit was a new bird for me. I caught him gleaning insects from this evergreen tree, but he flew away as soon as I pointed the camera at him. I would have loved to spend more time with this cute little bird or his mate, which had pretty pale eyes.
This Pine Siskin was one several in the area chattering away when it flew to this open branch. They seldom stay still, so I had to click the shutter quickly before it was gone. I've always liked their simple yellow adornment that flashes when they explode into flight.
I was waiting for another bird when this Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay landed nearby, but at an unfortunate angle. I couldn't get a shot. As if he read my mind, he jumped up on this rock and gave me a backward glance before flying away, leaving me with the best photo of the day.
The Phainopepla is a lovely bird of the desert southwest. I noticed a pair in a small garden feeding on Mistletoe and chose a position nearby. I waited patiently for this territorial bird to check me out and was rewarded with this shot of the male peering at me across the fence.
Male Summer Tanager
The first male Summer Tanager of the season is always a shock to me. The mottled yellowish-olive and red pattern of spring molting is stunning. I had to shoot this in near dark conditions, so it's a bit noisy and doesn't do justice to this typically all red always beautiful bird.
White-tailed Kite with prey
I initially saw this White-tailed Kite as a white speck bobbing up and down on a tiny tree in a large field of tall grass and weeds. The wind was relentless as I slowly approached. When I got close enough to see he had fresh prey, I took a few photos and retreated the way I came.
Male Northern Cardinal
This male Northern Cardinal was one of three in the area. There was also a female, so I was surprised the males were not harassing one another. This one tended to stay still and keep a low profile, which allowed me to capture him looking unusually relaxed.
Male Indigo Bunting
The Indigo Buntings have returned. Even though this beautiful bird doesn't jump around as much as others, it can still be difficult to photograph because it likes to hide out in the dense brush. I had to wait several minutes for this one to move to an open branch.
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
It's important to capture migrating birds ASAP as they may be gone the next day, so I knew I had to focus on this and another male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. They seldom landed in the open but I eventually captured this one in good light.
I spent a year looking for the Ruby-crowned Kinglet without really taking the time to study it. When I finally researched it exhaustively, I started finding it everywhere. So, I wasn't surprised when I saw this one in the desert, but I was delighted.
While traveling, I was excited to see this Spotted Towhee of the west feeding on the ground with sparrows. I was even more excited when it hopped up on this rock so I could capture it in isolation. It didn't stay long so if I hadn't taken this shot I would have missed it.
This Red-bellied Woodpecker was a pleasant surprise as we traveled back towards our home area, but I'm not sure what to make of the ruby red spot in the middle of the forehead. I'm not sure if it's a female or a male that has not filled in completely in red.
Female Ladder-backed Woodpecker
I was amazed at how much is going on in this photo with this female Ladder-backed Woodpecker lapping up insect eggs, bracing herself as woodpeckers do with her tail against a thorn below and dingy from spending time in trees and bushes involved in an earlier fire.
Juvenile Piping Plover
This juvenile Piping Plover looks like a lazy bird until it moves, and then it's all darting energy in search of food. I could only follow it with my camera and wouldn't attempt to keep pace as it outstripped other birds down the beach. I got this shot in a rare pause.
Dark-eyed Junco - Oregon variety
The colors of the Oregon variety of Dark-eyed Junco are very different from the Slate-colored common in the east, so I was excited to see this one hopping around on the ground. I waited for the perfect moment to get a photo and took this shot when he jumped up on a rock.
I'm always looking for more and better to share with you, so when out of the corner of my eye I caught this Broad-winged Hawk landing, I was both excited and disappointed. He was gone in seconds, and all I got was this sideways glance between the branches.
Is it possible this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was singing even more passionately because he was in a blooming Dogwood Tree? He was so intent on his singing that he paid little attention to me, but it was impossible to ignore him with his bright and high pitched voice.
I wasn't sure I would ever see the Black-crested Titmouse because it lives primarily in Texas and Mexico, so I was pretty excited when I saw one for the first time. Dense foliage initially obscured him, but I was able to move slowly to the right a few feet to get this view.
When I stopped to ponder my next birding move, I noticed this Killdeer (plover) drop down behind a concrete barrier. I got my camera ready in case he returned. A minute or so later he hopped up on one end and ran to this spot. That's when I captured him in such lovely light.
This Barred Owl was a challenge to photograph because she was in such low light. While I was taking photos, she slowly closed her eyes and took a nap. It was wonderful to see her so relaxed, and this is how I left her.
little Blue Heron
This Little Blue Heron was hunting for food when it froze in this position for a couple of seconds. That's when I got this shot. While it looks bluer in cooler light, I love the way the golden reflected light of the setting sun gave him a warm glow.
Canada Good Gosling
This Canada Goose gosling was away from the others and chose to nestle in lovely light. Happy Easter to all who celebrate and thanks to each of you for encouraging me with your likes, retweets, and kind comments. I know I'm supported by the nicest people on Twitter.
This Lesser Goldfinch was in a nearby tree with dense foliage when something startled it to this tree with more open branches. It was early afternoon, and the sunlight reflected off the sparsely covered ground, lighting up its bright yellow feathers underneath.
Young Cooper's Hawk
I was midway through my morning birding when I noticed this young Cooper's Hawk in the distance. It's always a dilemma how close to approach to get a photo without disturbing the bird. Since he was hunting, I decided not to advance and left with him there still looking for lunch.
Female Western Bluebird
I saw several Western Bluebirds from quite a distance and spent a couple of hours watching them, looking for an opportunity to get within camera range. They were very skittish, but after a while, I was able to get this distant shot of the lovely female.
Male American Goldfinch - nonbreeding
I was excited to find this male American Goldfinch getting a drink of water. He is in his nonbreeding plumage, glistening in the morning sun and reflected light of the water. He shows only a hint of the dazzling yellow and black colors of the coming summer.
I first saw the Green-tailed Towhee briefly at another location, so I had been looking for another one. This bird was barely more accommodating but eventually came out of the brush into bright dappled sunlight. It is one of my favorite 2019 discoveries.
American Coot and a Pied-billed Grebe
As soon as I saw this, I knew it was something I wanted to share. In the Chihuahuan Desert, I came across a human-made pond used for irrigation and found this American Coot and Pied-billed Grebe that seemed inseparable. Together they were also alone, the only water birds around.
I photographed this Raven in the Chihuahuan Desert lowlands. I'm not expert enough to say if it's the Chihuahuan Raven or the Common Raven, but I am expert enough to say it is a beautiful bird. I enjoyed watching it call at the tops of desert trees.
Anna's Hummingbird, female
East of the Mississippi we only have the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, so I was excited to see my first Anna's Hummingbird in the west. After several tries, I caught this female in flight with just the right light to show off her metallic emerald green markings.
This Hermit Thrush was a pleasant surprise as he came out of the dense brush and foraged not far from me. Except for the click of the camera, I stayed silent and still, observing a variety of behaviors, all the while struck by the gentle disposition of this woodland bird.
The Verdin is a new bird for me and I was excited to find this one gleaning insects in a mix of cane and tall grasses. It's puffed out a bit making it one of the cutest little fuzzballs I've ever seen. I love its sweet yellow face and distinctive chestnut shoulder patches.
In the US the Golden-fronted Woodpecker has a limited range in Texas and Oklahoma, and its numbers have declined. I spent days following and observing to get this male clinging to the side of a tree, his orange head backlit from the available light.
Female Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
I was struck by the brilliance of the yellow markings on this Yellow-rumped Warbler with the crown just coming in. The yellow throat identifies her as Audubon's variety of the West. I observed this one for several minutes foraging insects stirred up from recent irrigation.
I have a lovely photo of the Western Meadowlark on a clear perch, but think this shot is also compelling. I think he felt safer behind a few brambles and let me get within 20 ft. He sang his heart out, and it was a wonderful experience as sunlight lit his afternoon performance.
It was a cold and overcast early morning when I came upon this Red-tailed Hawk in the desert. I felt like I was in the presence of greatness and chiseled wisdom as I approached, stopping at a respectful distance. I took a couple of shots and quietly left, grateful.
I first saw this Cassin's Sparrow some distance away but was busy photographing another bird. The sparrow seemed to be curious and eventually came within camera range. This usually slender bird was a bit plumped up from the cold and frequent gusts of wind.
The Cactus Wren seems to continuously move and sing, although some of its songs sound like fussing squawks than melodies. This one went silent and blended into the background on approach, so I had to patiently wait for it to regain its voice and need to find an open perch.
Sometimes I get almost giddy at how beautiful common birds can be in the right light and setting. I go out for the rare or colorful bird like everyone else, but then it will be a simple one, like this Savannah Sparrow, that makes my day.
I was at the end of my day when I heard this Eastern Towhee nearby. I decided to stay a little longer, but it seemed forever before he came out of the brush. However, it only took a couple of seconds for him to duck back in when I moved the camera to get this shot.
Female Northern Cardinal
I could tell someone had been feeding birds in the area from seed on the ground, so I took a seat nearby and waited. After a while, this female Northern Cardinal came along, hopping from rock to rock until she saw something she liked, grabbed it, and flew away.
Male Black-tailed Gnatcatcheer
The Black-tailed Gnatcatcher is another new species for me, and this male proved difficult indeed to capture. It was at least as explosive in acrobatic action as the Blue-gray I'm familiar with. This was a relatively long pause of about a second.
I like to photograph Grackles because their iridescent plumage usually shows up as black, bronze, purple, blue, or some combination depending on the light. I was delighted when this Great-tailed species, another 1st for me, appeared to pick up the blue sky.
I have been looking for the Orange-crowned Warbler for a couple of years. Suddenly and beyond belief, it was right in front of me, and difficult to follow as it moved quickly through low branches. The orange crown is rarely seen, and unfortunately, I was unable to beat the odds.
I first saw this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker late one day when the light was too far gone to get a good photo. I noticed he seemed to circulate among a small range of trees along the river. I went back the next day and he eventually came to a tree within camera range.
This young Eastern Bluebird against the bright green of distant foliage strikes the perfect pose for Spring. Like some other young birds, this one was more curious than cautious and let me observe him for at least a minute.