After the presentation at Wild Birds Unlimited, we got an added bonus. Pete Griffing invited a couple of us into the back room for a close up session with one of the raptors.  We got to be up close and personal with the red-winged hawk that he brought and she was fabulous.

It is totally amazing to see animals like this so nearby.  Pete was very clear in letting people know that these are not house pets.  They may be more used to people than a fully wild bird but they can still easily tear someone up with the talons and sharp beaks if they are the least bit threatened.  We were only a few inches away but I definitely had a healthy respect for the power that could be unleashed if we weren’t careful.  I’m glad we had a handler who knew what he was doing and what to expect from this wonderful animal.

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
165mm @ f/8 – 1/40 sec – ISO 1600

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Red-tailed Hawk

On Saturday, we went over to Wild Birds Unlimited in Alpharetta to listen to Pete Griffon from the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center talk about raptors.  Pete brought three owls, a Screech, Barred and a Great Horned owl and a Red-tailed hawk to show the group.  It was a great presentation and everyone enjoyed learning about these magnificent birds.

The animals that are kept at the wildlife center are all victims of some accident or physical issue that prevents them from being released back into the wild.  It is very sad to hear how many beautiful, wild animals are injured because of the carelessness of man.  At least we can learn more about them and hopefully, be more respectful so that this happens less often.

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
300mm @ f/8 – 1/20 sec – ISO 1250

#Alpharetta #CharlieElliottWildlifeCenter #GeorgiaDepartmentOfNaturalResources #hawk #PeteGriffon #raptor #raptors #RedTailedHawk #WildBirdsUnlimited #Georgia #WithMyTamron #nature

Blue bird of Happiness

I definitely need to get out and do some more birding soon.  The weather has been pretty miserably hot but I need some more pictures like this.  My backyard has been a great source of interesting birds like this cheerful little blue bird.  I wish I had the great variety that David Akoubian gets up in the mountains but my suburban feathered-friends are a great joy to watch.

I’m hoping that summer relents a bit and it won’t be too long until we can start thinking about fall again but, 90+ degree days are still here for a while, I’m afraid.  I guess I will just need to find some shady spots to watch from and enjoy what nature brings.

Eastern Bluebird
(Sialia sialis)
Roswell, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/6.3 – 1/125 sec – ISO 640

Bird Walk with Atlanta Audubon Society

Joyce and I spent part of Saturday morning on a Bird Walk at the Chattahoochee Nature Center.  This was an event sponsored by the Atlanta Audubon Society which went trough the Nature Center grounds and out on the private boardwalk along the Chattahoochee River.

It was a very informative and enjoyable morning but we didn’t actually see all that many birds.  We did see your basic stuff – robins, mockingbirds, towhee, etc and of course there were the captive birds in the aviary displays.  The image shown here is an Eastern Phoebe who we saw along the boardwalk area.

I hope they have more walks from the Nature Center in the future so we can see what other beautiful bird breeds are in the area.

Eastern Phoebe
(Sayornis phoebe)
Chattahoochee Nature Center
Roswell, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/11 – 1/250 sec – ISO 400


Blue Jays are a strange breed.  They are so very common yet, I have been struggling to get a good shot of one.  You would think that a relatively large bird, that is usually pretty aggressive with other birds would be an easy subject but, not these guys.  They spook at the slightest breeze.  They are kind of bullies at some points but I have seen them get scared off by sparrows.

They also have a very wide variety of calls.  One of these seems to be an imitation of a hawk – maybe in hopes of scaring other birds away.  I can always tell when they are around but every time I go out to get a shot, they scatter.  While the other birds slowly return to the feeders, the Jays stay out at the edges of the yard.  They fly up to the top of the trees and if I move at all they fly off.  I got this one by setting up at a spot near the yard-favorite suet feeder and snapping a shot with my cable release.  (He flew off immediately at the sound of the shutter of course!)

As soon as I went inside, there were 3 Blue Jays lined up to get to the feeder.  They are really bid teases!

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
280mm @ f/11 – 1/60 sec – ISO 400

Correction: Pine Warbler

We get tons of House finches at our feeders but the goldfinches only show up on occasion.  I am kind of  a novice at bird identification so I was pretty sure this is a female goldfinch but, it is actually a male Pine Warbler.  It seems that there are a few different finches and warblers that are close to the same size and have the yellow color as well as the black wings with white stripes.

I’m hoping that we see some male goldfinches soon since the color is brighter and it’s pretty easy to pick them out.  They really add some great color to contrast with the other birds we see often.  Lately, it’s been woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, house finches, chickadees, wrens, titmouse and nuthatches at the feeders most often.  We see morning doves, towhees, and brown thrashers on the ground and hummingbirds at the flowers and feeders.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
450mm @ f/10 – 1/30 sec – ISO 400


I first saw this bird sunning on a branch along the edge of Woody Pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.  It was not a familiar species to me and I initially thought it was a cormorant.

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Anhinga sunning at Woody Pond

The Anhinga’s name comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird. The origin of this name is obvious when the bird is swimming. It swims with the body submerged and just ‘s long, slender head and neck the above the water so the bird looks like a snake ready to strike.

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The “snake bird” with catfish

The Anhinga pictured above had just caught a catfish and was swimming back and forth with the prey speared on the end of its beak.  At first, the fish was flapping about but the bird held it and waited for the wriggling to stop.  The Anhinga then flipped the fish up quickly to release it from the beak. After a little juggling to re-position, the fish was quickly swallowed whole.

This was quite a process to watch.


North American Anhinga
(Anhinga anhinga leucogaster)

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
420mm @ f/9 – 1/80 sec – ISO 320