Monday, June 30, 2008

An Amusing Evening

One June evening, the hummingbirds were particularly active at the backyard feeder. Not only was manufactured nectar available, but Lily of the Nile and Penta blooms had the natural stuff. I decided to sit quietly in the midst of the action, camera in hand. "Feeder photos" are pretty easy to get, so I tried for ones with flower feeds. It wasn't to be that night. The resident "guard bird" was pretty diligent so "air traffic" became very regulated. A couple of opportunities slipped away and night began to fall. Suddenly I was discovered, and a curious little hummingbird "posed" right in front of my face. While attempting to snap the picture, I heard my camera shut down. Dead battery. Darn! Oh well. Just picture in your mind a hummingbird exploring this Lily of the Nile flower and know that dead batteries and the "guard bird" at the feeder conspired against me;)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

California Seagull and Mono Lake

This California Seagull was photographed in Lee Vining, CA. He isn't far from his probable birthplace, Mono Lake. About 85% of California Gulls come from the rookeries located on the islands of Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra. My first (childhood) glimpse of the lake was in 1964 from Conway Summit to the north. Even as a nine-year-old, I was in awe of the beauty of the area, desolate and lunar-esque. Though still very large in the 1960's, the lake had already begun to shrink due to the diversion of water (via the Los Angeles Aqueduct) from feeder streams. Many years later after the completion of the second LA Aqueduct (adding transport capacity) the lake's water level dropped so low that the islands became peninsulas and coyotes were able to access seagull nests. Through the efforts of the Save Mono Lake movement (in the 1970's), DWP allocates water to the lake so Negit and Paoho are islands again and seagull rookeries are safe from coyotes. The lake also serves a wide variety of migratory birds.

As a side note, the water issues of the Eastern Sierra were dramatized in the 1974 movie, Chinatown, with Jack Nicholson. The movie was based on William Mulholland's attempt to gain control of water rights in the Owens Valley and the resulting construction of the original LA Aqueduct. Cadillac Desert is a documentary fim, portions of which chronicle the fight over water in the Eastern Sierra.

Friday, June 20, 2008

World Center For Birds of Prey

We recently visited the Boise, Idaho area. Pretty place (great for bird-watching and fiddling contests;) One of our stops was the World Center For Birds of Prey. An experienced volunteer is holding a 13 year old male Peregrine Falcon. This falcon was not released into the wild or used for breeding because of poor vision. He is currently part of the educational program at the Center. The organization has worked to save the Peregrine population and is now working to increase the numbers of California Condors in the wild. Visit their website for more info.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Happy Father's Day, Henry!

One Christmas, years ago, my dad gave me a pair of button quail (a fully-grown button quail is about the same size as a newly-hatched chicken). My pets (Henry and Henrietta) eventually produced a clutch of eggs and the eggs hatched into teeny little chicks. Unfortunately, mother hen was stressed, didn't keep them warm, and they died before we could rescue them. So Henry and Henrietta tried again. When the second clutch of eggs began to hatch, there was chaos in the aviary. Mother hen and her little chicks ran wildly around the cage until the chicks became cold and lethargic. I quickly took them inside and placed them under my art lamp to warm. When they were active enough to return to Mom, she would not care for them. Ultimately, it was Dad, Henry, who tucked seven little baby chicks underneath his body and kept them warm. He raised them to adulthood plus a few more broods thereafter. You were a great Dad, Henry!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Old Days....

I worked for many years in magazine publishing. Not many 'behind-the-scenes' photos exist, but did find one from the early '80's. This little chick was very tired when the sun went down (and I don't mean the bird;) On that particular day, the office studio was overrun with baby chickens.
It was fun!