Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I was sitting in my living room, and happened to see a bird that wasn't one i see every day out the window. I've not done much birding of late, but i picked up a handy pair of binoculars and looked. It's clearly a female Downy Woodpecker. And she went up and down the two crab apple trees in the median that divides my street. I went back upstairs and got the tripod. Then i went back up and got the camera. I took 187 pictures by holding the point and shoot camera to one eyepiece of the 10x50 binoculars, while sitting in my living room. So, i'm taking shots through the window glass. Usually, that's such a bad idea. Window glass is not what opticians call optic quality. There are all sorts of defects, which give you distortion. And you can get glare. And, the camera may attempt to focus on it. But the camera usually focused on branches if the shot was out of focus. Here's one of them.
You can tell that she's a female. The male has this unmistakable red spot on the back of his head. The view directly through the binoculars is much better than this picture. The detail is better. The color depth is better. The focus is way better. You're seeing the bird in this shot, dot for dot, cropped from the much bigger original image. All other shots are cropped and scaled smaller. This blog is only 400 pixels wide. You might think this shot was taken in the woods. But the background is in fact the neighbor's house. This is clear in the uncropped original shot. So you think you can't get wilderness shots here, but apparently, you can. She put on a great show, and i got this other shot.

This is at the top of the tree, with the gray sky behind her. She paused a bit, then flew to the other tree, where she then continued to put on a great show. Of course, that's my perspective. She was just looking for things to eat. She kept poking at the tree, though never seemed to do it any damage. It was an hour. She left after combing both trees. I hope she got something out of it. Maybe she'll come back. But she wasn't interested in the leftover fruit still hanging from the tree. The cardinals and squirrels eat it, and when there's snow on the ground, so do the robins. And there was a robin out too.

You can tell he's a male American Robin. His head is darker than the back and wings. The female would have the head the same shade as the back and wings. And he was digging in the dirt under this bush. He came out into the sunshine only a couple times. He'd hop up completely into the bush when someone would walk by, especially with a dog. Often the robins are wary but hang out in the middle of the lawn. The snow was melting, but the ground was probably still frozen. Robins around here migrate south if they can't find anything to eat. Many stay all year round.

I'm guessing that this is a female House Sparrow. I didn't snap this shot of her, per se. She appeared in this shot with the robin. I didn't see her through the binoculars with my eyeballs at all. Examination of all these shots reveals a bird nest i'd never noticed as well. European House Sparrows are not sparrows at all. Genetically, they're finches. They have that short finch like beak. But it's too late to rename it a House Finch. We already have a bird called a House Finch. House Sparrows are incredibly common around here. This one also seemed to be uncharacteristically shy. Didn't care one way or the other about the robin. Just unusually skittish. She didn't stay long.

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