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June is Peak Fledging Season

As we slip into summer, young birds begin showing up in our yards, neighborhoods, and favorite birding areas. Many nesting birds have succeeded in raising their nestlings to fledging. Many people think that when nestlings leave the nest they are on their own; but realistically, when young birds leave the nest, they are the most vulnerable of all. New fledglings are still under the care and protection of at least one adult during a post-fledging period that may last a couple days, a couple weeks, or several months.

Bald Eagles Continue to Expand Their Nesting Range

Sometimes birding experiences lead to a much broader thought process that brings history, ecology, habitat availability, land use practices, conservation, and population dynamics together in an on-going conversation and environmental process. Case in point, ever-expanding Bald Eagle populations. During this century, Bald Eagles have steadily been expanding their nesting range from their traditional forest and lakes habitats and riverside woodland nesting areas onto the open plains and agricultural areas.

Celebrating the New John James Audubon Art & Learning Center

The Grand Opening of the new John James Audubon Center outside Philadelphia June 4th heralded interactive and family-friendly ways to explore the legacy of famed ornithologist John James Audubon and the conservation movement he inspired. It houses two galleries for art and conservation displays, permanent exhibits with multi-sensory experiences, and outdoor activities. The new Audubon Center showcases the beauty, variety, songs, and flight of birds.

Hudsonian Godwits Assessed as Threatened by Canada

At its April meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada assessed the status of 19 species, including Hudsonian Godwits, and found that Hudsonian Godwits are “Threatened” and likely to become endangered if nothing is done to reverse the factors leading to the species’ population decline, which was recently described as a 44 percent population decline in a report by Dr. Marcel Gahbauer.

Bird Photography is Central to the Canon Bird Branch Project

Canon Global provides an international perspective into birds, the cycle of life, and especially bird photography in their comprehensive Bird Branch Project. A wealth of information is provided in web pages within such headings as the Bird Photo Guide, Junior Photographers, a Photo Gallery of birds worldwide, and Bird Column. The most interesting segment for many birders may be: How to Photograph Wild Birds, which is divided into three levels, the Introductory, Advanced, and Practical courses, each of which is sectioned into valuable topics.

Join the Editor for Weekly Birding Highlights

By the first of June, spring migration appeared to be almost complete, and I turned my attention back to the broader surrounding landscape, noting that the female Ferruginous Hawk appeared to be feeding what I imagined were small downy nestlings in her hilltop ground nest. Same for a couple Red-tailed Hawk nests I checked, although Swainson’s Hawks are still incubating. The large nestling Great Horned Owls began “branching;” leaving the nest, perching on surrounding branches or on a bend in the tree trunk.

Vortex Diamondback 8x42 Binoculars

The Vortex Diamondback 8x42 Binoculars offer quality optics at a budget friendly price in a lightweight package. Utilizing phase-corrected BaK-4 prisms, and fully multi-coated lenses, you see bright, sharp details in the birds you find. The textured grip, focus wheel, and diopter offer you a good sense of control using tried and true ergonomics, while the twist-out eye cups and 16mm eye relief add to your comfort while viewing. These versatile binoculars close focus to just 5 feet away, and they feature a field of view of 393 feet at 1000 yards, providing a great span for viewing subjects near and far.

Try a Window Hummingbird Feeder this Summer  

Enjoy the show up-close when you install a Droll Yankees Window Hummingbird Feeder. This long-lasting, UV-stabilized polycarbonate window feeder mounts on the outside of any window you choose with suction cups. Hued in ruby red with a clear lavender-colored bottom to easily monitor the sugar-water nectar level, this three-port window feeder is easy to use and a joy to watch as it attracts hummingbirds so close. Use the Droll Yankees Lavender Ruby Sipper Window Hummingbird Feeder as a second hummingbird feeder, or as your first window to the world of feeding hummingbirds.

Keep Dry in an Orvis Rain Jacket

Don’t get caught birding in June rains without your Orvis Hatch Rain Jacket; for everyday use or just for special birding trips, this is the rain jacket to reach for on rainy days when hiking or manning a spotting scope. This lightweight, breathable, easy to pack, layered rain jacket provides protection from wind and rain with a DWR finish. Made of washable waterproof nylon with taped weather-proof zippers, the Orvis Hatch Rain Jacket keeps you dry and ready for any rainy day or sudden sprinkles. Orvis also offers a variety of other fashionable outdoor clothing and products for men and women.

You Can Magnify Your Camera Lens

Ideal for getting an extra-close image of exciting birds beyond the normal capability of your telephoto or zoom lens, a converter, sometimes called a teleconverter, magnifies your lens another 40 percent with a 1.4x converter, or it doubles the magnification of your lens with a 2x converter. Hence, it will turn your 300mm telephoto lens into an equivalency of a 420mm lens using a 1.4x converter, or a 600mm lens using a 2x converter.

The ABA Rare Bird Alert’s Weekly Highlights

Two First State Records were recorded last week, a first Tricolored Heron was photographed in northeast Montana, and a first Swainson’s Warbler was literally recorded in Vermont. The Swainson’s Warbler was not seen, and was only recorded singing – an auditory First State Record. Call it strange, but only one Hooded Oriole was sighted in Wisconsin before 2019; however, a Fourth State Record Hooded Oriole was observed last week in Green Bay, Wisconsin – the third Hooded Oriole reported in the state this spring! The western islands of Alaska continue to provide exciting rare sightings of Asian species, and spring’s rare bird parade continues across North America, so read on.

Be Prepared for the Unusual

When you’re photographing a bird, even after you have taken the ultimate photo you were hoping for, keep your camera focused, and be ready for a different photo, an unusual photo, a dramatic photo, a surprising photo – maybe even a comical photo. Sometimes, when you least expect it, a bird will give you a look, or take a position, that can be the gem in a series of images, or a standalone favorite. Be ready for the unexpected; be prepared for the unusual.

This week I selected a few favorite photos to illustrate times when I’ve had the opportunity to record that special moment when the ultimate photo morphs into the unusual, the dramatic, the comical. You can’t plan for these opportunities, you just hang in there a couple extra minutes and see what happens next – and be ready.

There is not much I can offer in the way of technical options or methods. The photos are merely unexpected extensions of various photo sessions. I hope you find these photos interesting, and a bit inspiring. The unexpected is a big part of bird photography – good or bad – but the unusual is great fun to see and record.

The young Barn Owl provided a nice portrait photo surrounded by the weathered wood and tin roof of the open-ended barn. Then it tipped its head to the side 90 degrees with an inquisitive look, or it may just have been getting a different perspective on its view of the human with the big eye (camera lens) below him. Nonetheless, it offers the momentary unusual take on a beautiful young bird.
I always get a bit tense when I’m very close to a Golden Eagle; not that I’m in any way concerned, but I’m so excited in the presence of these birds that I tense up, hold my camera and lens tightly, clench my teeth -- I hafta remind myself to lighten up and relax and appreciate the opportunity and share it with the mighty bird. As this big adult launched itself overhead, I was ready and merely pressed the shutter to get this unusual photo. I like the detail of the pattern in the tail feathers, the framing of the golden feathers around its face, and the tips of the talons extending beyond the tail -- plus the intensity of its look. Is this the kind of image a prey animal might see?
The intense cold is reflected in the sky and plumage of this male Snowy Owl as it switched from hunting mode to preening, and the streaming wind adds another unseen element to the scene. I may be alone in appreciating the art form in the stopped motion and different feather shapes with the closed eye, but I share it with you for its unusual qualities. Forget for a moment it is a bird; can you see and feel something else? An element of art?
As I photographed this brightly colored male Baltimore Oriole foraging along the length of the branch of yellow blooms, feeding on flower nectar and an occasional small insect or spider, it tipped upside down vertically with its tail balancing high above in its vertical stretch. It was a moment I knew would not be used in publication, but I thought it had a comic element that might lend itself to sharing in some way, if only for my own memory recall of the overall experience that beautiful spring evening surrounded my spring migrants.
Having a young Peregrine Falcon in my lens view proved to be an exceptional experience -- unexpected in itself, especially in beautiful winter light during a balmy windless SoCal afternoon. I took my initial portrait photos of the sleek raptor as it leaned forward rather horizontally; it relaxed into a more normal position, then stretched upright and rotated its head to look up, at what? Even as I took the photos I wished there were fewer sticks in the frame, but that’s bird photography too -- you take what you get, and what the bird gives you, including the unusual.


Article and photographs by Paul Konrad

Share your bird photographs and birding experiences at editorstbw2@gmail.com

June 14 - June 16
Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua
Lee Vining, California
June 24 - June 28
American Ornithology 2019 Meeting
Anchorage, Alaska
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