Full of personality, this Tufted Titmouse easily outsang other birds in the area. His self-confidence was evident in the way he flew near me without a hint of shyness. Later I saw a more brightly-colored bird, but this is the shot and memory I treasure most from that day.
Close to sunset, this Eastern Bluebird landed in a mix of shadows and bright light. Initially ignoring me, he turned to look at something behind him. But when I raised my camera, he swiveled his head slightly back. That's when I got this shot and later marveled at his sunlit eye.
The Pied-billed Grebe is fun to watch as it dives underwater. It's hard to tell where it will come up because it can change direction while out of sight. My guess is usually wrong, but this time I got him just as he popped up with that "Where did you come from?" look.
I found a fallow field with weeds and wild grasses. A small stream ran along one side. When I stopped at a promising spot, several birds flew away, so I stayed quite still. Some birds eventually returned, and I got this lovely Savannah Sparrow in the late afternoon light.
Male Summer Tanager
It's a bit dreary today, and it reminded me of an overcast spring outing. I went looking for birds in spite of the weather when this male Summer Tanager landed nearby in poor light. He stayed just long enough to brighten my day and let me get this shot.
My granddaughter and I were looking for birds. We had seen a Pine Warbler, which she pronounced with some difficulty, but eventually got right. Then this White-breasted Nuthatch landed nearby. She beamed with pride when she pronounced it correctly the first time.
The first Yellow Warbler I ever saw was too far away to get a good shot, but it put me on a quest to get closer. On another day I saw this one down a road ahead of me and parked nearby. He flew away, but about 20 minutes later he returned and I got this shot.
I saw an Acorn Woodpecker flying between trees and started walking in that direction. Along the way, I was amazed to see him fly to one of the power poles and disappear into a hole. As I looked more closely, I could see the poles were riddled with holes.
Osprey on nest
I post a detailed closeup whenever I can, but sometimes seeing the broader context is interesting. In this shot, the nest is as much the star as the Osprey. Ospreys add to their nests each year, and the accumulation can add up to a few hundred pounds.
Male Harry Woodpecker
I didn't even see this male Hairy Woodpecker until he flew away. I decided to stay still and see if another bird showed up. A few minutes later, a female Hairy Woodpecker flew to the area, and right behind her was the male, giving me another chance to get this shot.
I saw this Cooper's Hawk ahead with his back to me. I watched him for a while and decided it would be safe to work my way around to his front, but he stopped me in my tracks with that look. I grabbed this shot and backed away as he returned his focus forward.
I had been trying to photograph another bird without success. As I turned to move to another location, I noticed this White-throated Sparrow. This bird was much more cooperative, and I was taken by the brightest yellow lores I had ever seen on this species.
Red-tailed Chipmunks are common in Western Montana, so I didn't stop for everyone I saw. But when the cheeks of this one were obviously bulging, I knew it was from a bounty of seeds and fruit, so I watched it scamper around large boulders and waited to get this shot.
I followed a creek that had yielded several birds on previous visits when I came across this Louisiana Waterthrush. This warbler, with thrush as part of its name, was singing beside the stream. Unfortunately, he stopped when something higher in the canopy caught his eye.
Clark's Nutcracker has been an elusive bird for me. I found this one at a pull-off on the side of a mountain and soon noticed a couple of others further away. This one perched at the top of a tree almost straight out from me, allowing me to get this shot.
I missed a chipmunk until he scurried away from me. I left the trail, slowly wandering in his direction. That's when I got another surprise with this Steller's Jay. He was silent until I took his photo and then he let out a call. I never did catch up with the chipmunk.
Male Boat-tailed Grackle
I was moving through an area looking for egrets to photograph when I obviously entered the domain of this Boat-tailed Grackle. He was bobbing back and forth in the breeze, telling me I needed to move along. He has the characteristic brown eye of the western Gulf Coast.
I was checking the settings on my camera in preparation to go birding on our trip to Hawaii last year when This Pacific Golden-Plover landed nearby. Hawaii is one of its wintering areas. It breeds in Alaska and Siberia and has starkly different plumage during that phase.
The Asiatic Dayflower is one of my favorites, even though they are gone now. It's so named because the two-petal bloom lasts for just a day. Fortunately, they replenish with new blooms each day. I've found this flower in some wild places and always felt fortunate.
This Barred Owl was a double surprise. He flew silently from tree to tree, and although he was difficult to find in the dense fall foliage, once I found him, he was content to stay. It seemed to he was as curious about me as I was about him.
This Red-tailed Hawk suddenly landed near me with an Eastern Gray Squirrel. I was at first in disbelief as to what had just happened. This covering behavior is typical and serves to hide his catch from other predators as well as contain it.
I was watching another bird when this Mountain Chickadee stole the show, zipping all over the place. After missing him several times, I finally got this shot. Later I noticed a little debris or scale on his leg, but it didn't slow this energetic bird down one bit.
This Phainopepla is a distinctive western bird. I had just started my birding day when this female landed nearby, and I quickly got this shot. When I looked up, she was gone. During my later photo review, I noticed that she had fanned her tail, sometimes a defensive sign.
I usually avoid midday for birding because of the harsh light and dark shadows. I was at the end of an extended morning outing when I came across this Verdin. There was just enough light and shadow to bring out the details, so I snapped away and got this shot.
It's raining, that background noise that lets me wander back to a warmer day. It was nearly springtime when this Spotted Towhee landed nearby and looked so poignantly for his mate. I go birding alone and take photos to share what I see and a bit of what I feel, often it's peace.
Male Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Have you seen a woodpecker with a gray breast or other non-white shade? I've seen gray and yellowish tints. This male Ladder-backed woodpecker shows how woodpeckers pick up debris from rubbing up against branches that have been in a fire or oozing sap.
This Great Egret was hunting ahead of me, pausing just before I caught up with him, and then motionless for several seconds. I thought I was ready but was startled when he suddenly stabbed the water. It was over in a blink, and I only got him after he had captured this crawfish.
I saw my first Lazuli Bunting this year and spent as much time with them as I could. This is one of my favorites, so I was very excited to find this one singing. I was even happier when he continued singing as I snapped away, a sign he was comfortable with my presence.
Male Kalij Pheasant
I meant to post the male Kalij Pheasant as soon as I posted the female so you could compare them. Unfortunately, I got interrupted until now. The male has more striking colors, but to some people, it may not be any more beautiful than the female.
Female Kalij Pheasant
Last year in Hawaii, while on a hike, I saw a male Kalij Pheasant about 25 feet away in the dark forest. It moved away quickly, and I was so disappointed. Then, about a quarter-mile further, a pair walked out on the path where the light was a little better. This is the female.
Male Northern Cardinal
There was a pair of Northern Cardinals hanging out in a brush pile about 40 feet away. The female was mostly hidden, but the male was in the open. I moved closer, but at one point, the male took off. I stopped, crouching lower. He eventually came back, and I got this shot.
I don't see many Prothonotary Warblers and get pretty excited when I do. While I watched this one, I missed several opportunities to get a shot. Soon after I got this photo, it took off, so I'm going to have to be a little quicker next time.
Male Indigo Bunting
This Male Indigo Bunting is another one of those "needle in a haystack" shots, charactistic of the challenges I had with this bird. It was rarely in the open. Still, I was determined to get a photo, so I slowly moved sideways until most of him was exposed.
Great Horned Owl
I look for birds everywhere. I'm always hoping to find a hawk or owl on an open branch in a natural setting. And then, ironically, I hear about a pair of Great Horned Owls in a shopping center. Some people speculate that this is increasingly common due to lost habitat.
Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet
The sky confirmed a prediction of "overcast," but I was determined to go birding. I had captured a lovely sparrow and was debating whether to look for another when this Ruby-crowned Kinglet landed nearby. He flashed his red crown as if to say it was time to move on, so I did.
Male Painted Bunting
I could see this male Painted Bunting on the far side of a tree, but there were several limbs in the way. I slowly worked my way around to the left, hoping he would not fly off. It was a distant shot, but I finally got him almost clear.
I watched Bighorn Sheep moving up a mountainside and stopping to graze in open areas along the way. The males stick together while ewes and lambs form separate small herds. I didn't count the number of butt shots in this photo, but at least one ram was on guard duty.
Female Summer Tanager
While the male Summer Tanager is red, the female is yellow. It's a perfect example of sexual dimorphism where the sexes can be easily distinguished by physical characteristics. I got a shot of this female near her red mate but wasn't close enough to get my usual detail.
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was true to form, flying out to catch insects and then returning to a favored perch. I felt blessed to watch this daily drama play out. Unfortunately, it didn't last, as he moved on to another area outside of my camera's reach.
Flycatchers include colorful birds such as the Vermilion and Scissor-tailed, but they also include drab birds. This is the Gray Flycatcher and it clearly makes the plainest sparrow look amazing. I love all birds though and want to share them, including this little gray jewel.
The Swainson's Thrush fascinated me as a migrant I rarely and briefly saw in my home area. This summer, I spent more time with it in its breeding range and found it to be shy but curious. I watched it feeding in trees and on the ground and caught this one watching me.
I'm always surprised when I see Sandhill Cranes in Yellowstone National Park, but I've seen several. This was a family at the edge of the forest in the early evening. The other parent was further ahead, probably keeping a lookout and leading the way.
American Black Bear
This young American Black Bear looked cute in his peek-a-boo pose until I realized tourists were closing in on him from another road. I left after this shot, not wanting to add to his stress.
I stopped at a small cantina near where I had been birding to take a break. I didn't order food but did have a bottle of water. Soon a couple of Blue Jays landed in the tree above, no doubt looking for a handout. This one came the closest, so I focused my attention on him.
Like most birders, I'm always looking for birds. Driving down the interstate, I saw this Western Meadowlark, got off at the next exit, backtracked down a side road, parked appx 75 feet away, and waded through weeds to get within camera range. Snap, back in the car...
Male American Goldfinch
Whenever I can't find birds in the forest, I look for a garden with a Shepherd's Hook. That combo seems to be a magnet for birds, and that's where I found this American Goldfinch. He will soon transition to his winter plumage, but he's sunshiny bright in this shot.
In early summer, I was birding along a river. At one point I looked across and saw a small band of Mountain Goats. The adults were losing their winter coats and grazing. The kids may have still been nursing as they stayed close to their nannies.
I saw this MacGillvray's Warbler flying between dense brush near some water and an overgrown bank. I positioned myself on the side nearest the water and the best light for that time of day. That's when I got a shot of this beautiful but hard to find bird.