My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Red Times Two - and a Lifer - NOT

Published August 18, 2012
Tags: Life List Happenings, Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Kingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Wood Duck, Green Heron, Killdeer, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwings

Today I thought I'd like to focus on getting some better photos of the Belted Kingfisher.  I have the right equipment now, I just need to learn how to use it better.  I did get a few nice opportunities, but lighting, as always, was my challenge.  I'll share what I got below...

But what I got really excited about was the unexpected view of a Orchard Baltimore Oriole and a Scarlet Tanager!  On my way out of the preserve, I saw a little sparrow on a log shaking himself off after a bath in the pond.  I'm not sure what kind again of sparrow again; they're tough - especially when wet!  I also noticed several (at least 8) Eastern Kingbirds up in a tree.  I've never seen that many at one time before.  A family of Cedar Waxwings was very busy in the same tree - so, with all that going on, I sat down to enjoy the shows.  Suddenly, I noticed a flash of red up in one of the nearby trees.  What?  A Scarlet Tanager, I thought - cool!

I got a couple of shots of him and before he disappeared.  THEN - to my amazement, he was in a bush just a few feet in front of me!  But this time he had a black head.  Wait; I'm confused.  I took a few photos and then, just to be sure, looked up the Scarlet Tanager in my bird app to be sure I wasn't crazy.  No black head.  A little further research and I thought the other bird was an Orchard Oriole - or so I thought.  I spotted him again a few minutes later and got to enjoy some prolonged views - and as it turns out, my life-list addition has to wait - this was a Baltimore Oriole. Now I've seen lots of Baltimore Orioles, but today, maybe because of the early morning sun, he looked to be a much deeper color - just about red.

What are the odds: TWO red (almost red) birds within a minute of each other?  That was special!

After going through my photos, I can clearly see the tanager is starting to lose its beautiful red plumage and don his fall attire.  Did you know the Scarlet Tanager will beat its insect prey against a tree branch to kill it before eating it?

The oriole was a very deep red, unlike some of the photos I've seen online.  It fooled me because of this!  One of the photos shows him eating a dark blue berry, which they are known to prefer. They stab the berry with their beak closed, and then open their mouth to catch the juice. That is called gaping. I had no idea they did that.

I also saw 2 Broad-winged Hawks shrieking and circling over the pond, a Killdeer (I didn't realize how small they are!), a Double-crested Cormorant, an Eastern Phoebe, many American Goldfinches in the fields, House Finch, several Northern Cardinals, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Wood Ducks, Canada Geese, Mallards, Gray Catbird, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, European Starling, several juvenile Eastern Bluebirds, and more, I'm sure!
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Male Baltimore Oriole with a blue berry in its beak
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Male Baltimore Oriole
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Male Scarlet Tanager - maybe not his best side
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Male Scarlet Tanager - you can see the fall plumage beginning
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Eastern Kingbird - one of many I saw today
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Maybe a Chipping Sparrow - the top of its head looks rather reddish
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Male Wood Duck - even their fall plumage is beautiful
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Killdeer
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Got an itch?
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Green Heron
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Belted Kingfisher
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Female Belted Kingfisher
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Belted Kingfisher
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Belted Kingfisher
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Female Belted Kingfisher
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Belted Kingfisher descends upon an unsuspecting minnow
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A young Eastern Bluebird on a nearby post
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Young Eastern Bluebird
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Gray Catbird; ever get the feeling you're being watched?
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How many Cedar Waxwings do you see? I count 5!
Reply from: Marilyn O'Connell on 8/19/2012 10:20 PM
 Call me Sue! I have to tell you a few things! Call my cell or I will call you Monday early.