Tag Archive: Birds


Southern yellow-billed hornbills perched together in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

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The crested guineafowl, with bright red eyes and the the best feather mohawk I’ve seen, is one funky bird.

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A flock of them visited our campsite in Kruger to take dust baths in the fine, dry soil right next to our tent.

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The fine dirt is perfect for getting down between the feathers and to the skin to kill off lice, as well as to remove excess oils and keeps the feathers in good condition to allow for a quick escape from predators.

 

Fire Chicken

Sharp tailed grouse profile WM

Rarely do wildlife and great lighting come together, but we got lucky over several days in Grasslands National Park. On one of our early morning drives in the park we were rewarded when this female sharp-tailed grouse or fire grouse walked out into the gorgeous morning light and seemed to pose for her photo. If only wildlife photography was always this easy!

 

Bald eagle black frontal WMA bald eagle cries out as it effortlessly soars through the air near Prince Rupert, B.C. Once back home, with the help of Photoshop I created this image by keeping the eagle in colour while making the rest of the image black and white. I love the eye-catching effect is has and it turns the image into something more like art than traditional wildlife photography. Sometimes it’s nice to do things a bit differently! Please click on the image for the full size and let me know what you think!

GGO spruce top horizontal best WM

With its razor sharp talons firmly grasped around the flimsy top of a sapling, a great grey owl intensely scans and listens for any unsuspecting prey.

Feather Duster

Northern Hawk Owl Tree watermark

One misstep or mis-perch and this northern hawk owl might become a feather duster as it precariously sits on what looks like a very uncomfortable perch. It was about a year ago that I took this photo up in the Yukon and in the next week I will be passing by this spot on another Alaskan, Yukon and BC adventure. Hopefully I see a few more of these amazing birds along the way.

Dipper whats over there PS SS WM

About a month ago I had a great encounter with an American Dipper. It started off with me getting a shot of it looking off into the distance at something that caught its eye. Notice the ice crystals on the legs!  No big deal for a dipper!

Dipper with stickleback swimming PS SS WM

Seconds later it was diving into the frigid waters and hunting down a fish. With water droplets beading off the feathers, it surfaced and started swimming towards me to the nearest bank. The fish squirmed back and forth but couldn’t break free from the tight grip on the tail. These fish are known as sticklebacks, aptly named for the multiple sharp spines that run along their backs. This didn’t seem to deter the dipper though. It managed to avoid the spines and once to shore the fish was quickly put out of its misery.

Dipper stickleback water splashing PS SS WM

Water droplets fly as the dipper smacks the fish against the ice to kill it. Once dead, the bird took a brief break before it picked the fish up again and repeatedly smacked it against the ice. This continued for several minutes with the dipper slowly moving closer and closer to me. The only explanation I can think of for why it continued to hit the fish against the ice was that it needed to blunt the sharp large spines before it could swallow the fish whole.

Dipper stickleback beak back PS SS WM

At this point the dipper was a mere 5 feet from me.  Almost like a house cat that brings a mouse back to show off its catch! This was the final shot before it gulped the fish down and dove back into the water for another. Such an amazing sequence to see and I continue to marvel at these unique birds!

 

Dipper tongue out reflection log watermarkA funny photo for the day. I will let you decide if the dipper was sticking its tongue out at me, for the photo, or just because it can!

Magpie in flight deer carcass watermark

First let me say that this post was already in the works before today, which is why I got quite the laugh this morning when fellow blogger and wildlife photographer, Lyle Krahn awarded me the dubious distinction of the ‘Forgot to Leave’ award! Check out Lyle’s site for the full story as well as his great wildlife photos and stories!

Whenever I come across a carcass I have visions of wolves or cougars, or the even more elusive wolverine catching the scent and coming in to feed. The thought of witnessing these rarely observed animals in the wild doing things that I or few others have ever seen before keeps me out in the wilderness for hours on end. So with that optimism in mind, I hunkered down and waited. As you can probably imagine, sitting around in -15 degree Celsius temperatures is no fun. You can’t move around to keep warm since that will scare off any wildlife and the cold has a way of quickly removing any resolve that might have initially been there. But that day I was determined to give it a few hours so I waited some more. Within about an hour some magpies showed up and distracted me from the cold. In between feeding on the kill, they flew off to cash their food. Before flying back down to get more pieces of meat they perched in nearby trees and called out. This was great for me since it gave me enough time to turn the camera back on, compose the image and get my finger out of my glove to fire off the shutter. In their typical dramatic aerial flare, they swooped down to the carcass and fanned out their beautiful wings and tail feathers. I was treated to these displays for hours but eventually my resolve was broken. The tipping point was the hot packs I had placed in my boots and gloves could no longer keep my toes and fingers warm. Getting a few images like this made the surrender a little easier but as I hiked back to my car I wondered what I would have seen if I had waited a bit longer.

Snow Buntings

Snow buntings in flight 1 watermark

In a co-ordinated burst, a flock of snow buntings cascades from a tree to fly off in search of food.

Red Poll

Male red poll watermark

A male red poll (males have crimson breast feathers in addition to the red cap) sits on snow covered fir tree in Banff National Park

These two males took a break from feeding along the Bow river in Banff National Park.  Harlequin numbers have been down over the past few years and this year an effort is underway to try and catch as many as possible for banding and placement of radio-transmitters to help researchers figure out why.