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.
We were on a sunset hike when this cute little Rock Wren popped up on a large conglomerate of quartz and other minerals and stole the show. Perhaps he knew he was on my target list of lifetime wrens to capture.
This Loggerhead Shrike was skittish as usual, but I was determined to get a photo of the singing predator. Slow movements saved the day and I got this shot against an overcast sky. The masked songbird is an able hunter and insects, and small mammals must be wary.
This Lesser Goldfinch is already impressive and is going to be amazing when it gets through the Spring molt. But what's that on the side of his head? I haven't seen anything like it before and can't make out if it is some kind of critter or a type of feather.
I noticed this male Vermilion Flycatcher swooping down from a tree and skimming along the top of standing water catching insects. I approached slowly and didn't get too close, but he was clearly focused on dinner and paid little attention to me as I got this shot.
I sat quietly near a thicket of low brush where there might be some new-to-me birds. After a while, I noticed movement deep within the tangle, but could not make out what it was. Eventually, I was excited to see this Lincoln's Sparrow pop up and take a look around.
This beautiful male American Kestrel was relaxed even though I was excited. I approached slowly to within camera range. I kept my distance though, and after a couple of quick shots of this amazing raptor, I left him still glowing in the setting sun.
This Eastern Phoebe helped me find other birds. I was getting in my car from a bird walk when he flew a very short distance away. I sat there quietly hoping he would return. In a few minutes, he and two other species came within photo range. Thank you Mr. Phoebe.
I wasn't expecting this House Wren to suddenly appear. I had never seen one before even though I have read they are common. He was only there about a minute. I got a couple of shots and then spent the remaining time just quietly watching this cute little bird.
Young White Ibis
It was overcast when I saw young White Ibises foraging, dipping their beaks into shallow water looking for lunch in the muddy bottom. They moved quickly, so it was a challenge keeping up with them as they rapidly worked their way down a narrow canal about seventy-five feet away.
It was overcast, and the sun was about to set when I saw this Snowy Egret in the water. I was losing the light but decided to try and get a photo. He didn't seem to mind as he slowly waded towards me. It was a peaceful moment at the end of the day.
A pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches flew to a tree near me and seemed to be having a disagreement. They were chasing around the trunk and between limbs. I wasn't quite ready for all that action but did catch this one fussing at the other one.
Spring migration and summer bring the Prothonotary Warbler. I remember the warm day with sunlight filtering through an otherwise dense canopy when this one landed in a nearby tree.
I was driving along a back road when I saw this Cooper's Hawk intently watching a large open area. My presence didn't seem to interrupt his concentration, so I got out and snapped this photo before continuing on my way.
Male Red-bllied Woodpecker
I was looking for birds when I noticed this male Red-bellied Woodpecker closely examining the crack in this post. He went from the top to the bottom and back up again. My guess is it looked like a crevice he or another bird might have hidden a morsel of food in for later.
Great Blue Heron
It was an overcast day with a patch of blue sky emerging when I accidentally flushed this Great Blue Heron along a lake bank. It was all I could do get my camera pointed and focused on him just as he passed by with a loud bark-like call.
When I sat down in the woods, all the birds flew away, but after about 30 minutes several returned. I was fascinated to watch this Carolina Wren. He was unusually quiet as other birds chirped softly. Later he did open up and sang his distinctive song louder than all the rest.
Male Northern Cardinal
When I saw this male Northern Cardinal land on bare branches quite some distance from the dense green foliage in the background, I knew everything else would fade away except this beautiful bird and his natural perch. That's when I clicked this shot.
When Blue Jays are about, I'm always hoping I can catch one in the shade or under an overcast sky. Bright sunshine just doesn't bring out their colors like cooler tones. Just as I hoped this one landed in the most lovely light and really made my day.
I didn't get very close, and the light was horrid, but I love the intense expression of this Red-shouldered Hawk as he was looking for prey. I'm sure he saw me, but he never flinched. After I left, I looked back from even further away just in time to see him take off.
I was looking for birds when I came upon this cute little Carolina Chickadee. I love these little black and white fuzzballs, and this one just sat there looking left and right like he was checking to see if it was clear to cross the street. He left me smiling.
I was on a walk because we had warm sunshine on a winter day when I noticed this cute little Field Sparrow eating seeds. It made me wonder how many tiny seeds he would have to eat to live and how grateful sparrows must be for backyard feeders.
Female American Kestrel with Prey
This female American Kestrel had frustrated me for days, perching only on electrical wires and flying away if I got within 300 ft. I had dubbed her many unflattering names when I came upon her again with prey. She was reluctant to give up her perch and let me get within 150 ft.
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
I was photographing a couple of other birds when this Ruby Crowned Kinglet stole the show. He was zipping at blazing speed through the branches, and I'm pretty sure he completely ignored me the brief time he was there.
I couldn't help but laugh at this Great Blue Heron. He would skate from place to place on the thinly frozen lake and peck at the ice. I'm sure he could see the fish below but couldn't quite work out how to get to them.