Monday, April 12, 2010

Birds in My World

I enjoy the wide variety of birds that inhabit my community and every once in a while I see something new.
While out walking one day, Jules and I spotted this male Northern Harrier. I often see Harriers flying low, harrying their prey but I have never seen one perched and certainly not close enough for a good shot. I was surprised to see his "owl like" face. Since he hunts close to the ground this shape helps to amplify the sound of his prey, the same function it serves in owls.


How do I know it is a male? Unlike most hawks the markings are quite different between the male and female. The female is a mottled brown while the male is grayish. I seem to see females hunting much more often, probably because during non-nesting season females will chase the males away from the best hunting areas.


Unlike most raptors, the Northern Harrier nests on the ground. Perhaps that is why the difference in markings. The female would be much better camouflaged while she is incubating the eggs.
Their preferred prey is voles, which we have in abundance in the open area and in our gardens. I'm always glad to see the Harriers and the Egrets which also feed on voles!


I also spotted this Rufous Hummingbird the other day. Our usual resident is the Anna's Humming bird. I think the Rufous was migrating through as they are more common in Oregon and Washington. A very aggressive little guy, he was chasing my resident hummers. He doesn't play nice.


See more views from around the world at My World Tuesday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.


23 comments:

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Great photos of the birds and a natural history lesson as a bonus.

Linda Reeder said...

Great pics! I love learning about our birds.

sebi_2569 said...

very nice blog, congratulations

Noelle said...

I have not seen such a good photo of a Rufous Hummingbird before. He looks a little cranky. At least your resident hummers will not have to deal with him for long :-)

Barb said...

These bird photos are fabulous, Martha! Send that Harrier my way if he's interested in a non-stop supply of voles. The color of the Rufus is stunning.

Gaelyn said...

Wonderful captures! How lucky to get that Harris Hawk to pose so nicely.
I remember the Rufus Hummers being exceedingly aggressive when in OR and WA.

Sistertex said...

Great post, beautiful photos, certainly ones that I do not see around here. Thank you for sharing

Jedediah said...

Lovely photos, the hummingbord's colours are striking, I took the Harrier for an owl at first glace, he certainly does look like one.

Sylvia K said...

Great and informative post as always, Martha, love your photos and the Northern Harrier is such a beautiful bird! I've never seen one and I took him for an owl at first, too. Such a colorful hummingbird and he does look as though he could be aggressive! Hope you have a great week!

Sylvia

ewok1993 said...

thanks for the information. i thought the first one was an owl.

Starnitesky said...

Great shots and an interesting post, I haven't seen the Northern Harrier before.

Johnny Nutcase said...

Great photos, Martha! I hardly ever see the harriers perching either, nice one! They do have a similar look to short eared owls i've noticed. This guy is handsome. Great one of the rufous, too! wow!

ρομπερτ said...

Amazing. Thank you so very much for this escape throughout the night. A wonderful Tuesday for you.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

great post Martha. I always loved the name Harrier" for that hawk --it is so apt. Oh but that hummngbird is just amazing -- I can hardly believe you got such a good picture of this little darter. Wonderful.

Carolyn Ford said...

I love the face on the Harrier! What a cutie with personality! Is this hummingbird larger than most? What a beautiful color it is. Beautiful captures, Martha!

Carly said...

wow, what great shots you've gotten!

J Bar said...

Great captures.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

luna miranda said...

i love your bird shots! i seldom capture birds in their natural habitat.

Regina said...

Beautiful world. Such amazing birdies.

Paulie said...

I always learn something new about birds from you! I love the info you provide although I probably won't remember it. Great catches!

Ebie said...

I would not have any clue about birds, but they are an addition to my list.

Have a pleasant trip and I hope it is not snowing over at Death Valley.

EcoRover said...

Great hawk pics! Nice when they pose close by.

Arija said...

Martha, your bird shot just blow me away, especially your header.