Category Archives: birds

Equinox at my door

Today (March 20th) marks the first day of spring this year. I got to White Rock Lake 15 minutes before sunrise to listen to birds greet the day. And was I in for a treat! I took short walks along Lawther Drive, parking in the small lots around the lake.

dawn sky over White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas

Dawn sky over White Rock Lake

I saw coots and mallards and wood ducks on the water. The male wood duck sports an aerodynamic helmet. Such authority. So cute.

Dawn at Whiterock Lake Dallas

I call this the chandelier tree.

My eyes were on the waterfowl, but chirps rained on me from the trees.

A red-winged blackbird drew me into a reed patch with its trill. No pictures of the RWB,  but got a quick shot of two racing shells. Sidebar (book suggestion): The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Great read!

Racing shells on Whiterock Lake, Dallas

And then I heard honking in the sky. The unmistakable call of Canada geese! I looked up and sure enough, a pair!

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See the two specks in the clouds about a third of the way up from the bottom and more than a third of the way in from the left? Canada geese.

I was definitely hoping I’d see Canada geese, but I wasn’t expecting to see them. So this was a bonus and I was content with the glimpse and the honks. I tried again to take pictures of the red-winged blackbird, but the reeds and the bird’s motion meant a few unusable shots. So I started walking back to the car when loud honking at the water’s edge stopped me in my tracks. I looked back:

Canada geese on Whiterock Lake

Oh, hello … Canada geese. I can’t even …

I kept my distance to give them space.

Canada geese on Whiterock Lake, Dallas

Seconds later, they took to the skies.

Canada geese on Whiterock Lake, Dallas

Flap flap

Canada geese on Whiterock Lake, Dallas

In sync

Airborne!

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Dove tale

A white-winged dove built a nest in my balcony. It took about two weeks for the eggs to hatch and two more for the babies to fledge.

June 28th – I stepped out for better cell reception to this!

What bird is this, I wondered …

white-winged dove on nest in Dallas, Texas

A white-winged dove! Identifying marks: bright blue ring around the eye, black streak on cheek, and white-edged wing that gives the bird its name.

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July 9th at dawn

I came home drenched from a sudden downpour to a sight that tugged at my heart.

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Mom is sopping wet and hanging on in thunderstorm gusts and heavy rain. The balcony has no awning, so there’s no protection from rain. July 12th

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All dry and fluffy the next day – July 13th

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Is that fuzzball under mom a baby bird? July 14th

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Two little heads and two little tails – July 17th

Why this bird chose a fourth-floor balcony grate to have babies beats me.

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I gratefully accept this gift …

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… of a beautiful dove and new life so close

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White-winged dove profile story 🙂

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July 19th

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So big so fast. So beautiful! July 21st

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Family portrait – July 25th

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July 26th – Last pic of the three together before the baby birds fledged

See how the story ends! Check out the full album of photos taken June 28th to July 28th.

More about this beautiful bird:
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: White-Winged Dove
Beauty of Birds: White-Winged Doves

I’ll forever love my very first bird guide, All the Birds of North America. It is awesome! There’s the Merlin Bird ID App, too.

Note: All close-ups are crops of longer shots (to give the birdies their space).

White Rock Lake, Dallas – 2

Happy Earth Day! White Rock Lake is home to flora and fauna that boost the happy.

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A pair of coots

The coot’s white bill and dark feathers and its bobbing motions make it Chaplinesque.

The Filter Building sits on the southwest bank of White Rock Lake.

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The Filter Building once housed a system to purify lake water for city consumption. In the 1950s, the city began to rely on its other lakes for water, so the Filter Building stopped serving its original function. Today you can rent it for private and corporate events.

Glad they left the name and the very cool sign untouched.

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Mauve magic of Texas mountain laurel

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Coot stalking

The white structure is a boat garage.

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The water looks fine. Let’s go.

I took these pictures one misty morning last month. Here’s a sunny day post on White Rock Lake from four years ago.

Nest western

Walk by this apartment. What do you see?

Nest - long shot

A twiggy little dwelling, built by a birdie

And what shall we call this avian abode?

Nest - close up

Lighthouse? Super bowl? It’s home, tweet home.

***
Big on birds? Check out these photo essays from the archives:
Swallow tales: Barn swallows build a nest, and three bitty ones follow.
A bird takes wing: A mourning dove chick hangs out on my third-floor balcony.

White Rock Lake, Dallas

Last weekend was a gorgeous one for Dallas. Mild temps and blue skies. Perfect for a visit to White Rock Lake. Fantastic bird- and people-watching, a view no matter which way you went, and the calming effect of all that water. Bliss.

You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them for a slightly better look. Only way to see the white beaks on the coots a few shots down.

What could be more soothing than chilling by a lake with a friend.

What could be more soothing than chilling by a lake with a friend.

White pelicans out for a synchronized swim

White pelicans out for a synchronized swim.

And humans out for a synchronized row. The Highland Park Crew: blue and yellow oars slice the water as guidance comes from the coaching boat at right. Hope the rowers had a hearty brunch afterwards—they sure earned it!

And humans out for a synchronized row. The Highland Park Crew: blue and yellow oars slice the water as guidance comes from the coaching boat at right. Hope the rowers had a hearty brunch afterwards—they sure earned it!

A clump of black-crowned night herons

A clump of black-crowned night herons

Two in a boat: a floating picnic

Two in a boat: a floating picnic

You can't tell from looking at the picture, but each of those cubbies is a boat garage.

You can’t tell from looking at the picture, but each of those cubbies is a boat garage.

Coots are a hoot. They waddle on land and bob on water, their white beaks leading the way.

Coots are a hoot. They waddle on land and bob on water, their white beaks leading the way.

A beautiful tree bedecked with late-winter ornaments. Know the name?

A beautiful tree bedecked with late-winter ornaments. Happen to know the name?

As I walked I saw father and son fishing side by side, another dad helping his little girl with her lifejacket for their kayak ride; a boy in the shade reading a book; a white-bearded man on a park bench, his wicker basket-fitted bicycle propped against it. Pink-cheeked babies, toned runners, fully kitted bikers, picnic blanket nappers—a lovely cross-section of humanity enjoying the gift of a beautiful day.

Saw quite a few birds for a late-morning visit. Bet it’s a birdwatcher’s dream at daybreak. A co-worker told me that migratory birds have been known to make a stop at White Rock Lake. Ah, flocks of feathered friends from faraway lands. I’ll come say hi.

Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Nestled in Brockdale Park, a prairie paradise overlooking Lake Lavon in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, Blackland Prairie Raptor Center (BPRC) is home to gorgeous birds of prey. Cravin’ avian awesomeness? Here you go:

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Peregrine Falcon / Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Did you know that peregrine falcons reach speeds upwards of 320 km/hour (200 miles/hour) when stooping?! Another cool fact: the traditional term for a male falcon is tercel. Makes me want to run out and buy a Toyota Tercel, which I doubt is even manufactured anymore.

Red-Tailed Hawk at Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Red-Tailed Hawk / Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Easy to see why the red-tailed hawk got its name.

Red-Tailed Hawk again

Red-Tailed Hawk again

From the BPRC website: “All of our raptor ambassadors have come to BPRC with circumstances that make them non-releasable. Due to their injuries or conditions, they would not be able to survive on their own in the wild. They have become the ambassadors for all wild birds of prey by educating the public about the issues concerning their future.”

Stunning ambassadors they sure are! Okay now, prepare for cute overload:

Screech Owl at Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Screech Owl / Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

See how small this owl scales before the human! I think this one is called Sweet Pea. So cute, I want to pat her on the head and and give her a lollipop. Pretty sure she’ll want a mouse instead.

Screech Owl again

Screech Owl again

Barred Owl at Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Barred Owl / Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Named for the bars on its chest, the barred owl has an easily recognizable call: Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all? A BPRC volunteer quipped that they call this one Shakespeare because he’s a bard owl. LOL.

Apart from a fantastic presentation by dedicated volunteers featuring the above raptors and a few others, including two other screech owls, a great horned owl, a barn owl, a kite, and a kestrel, volunteers led prairie walks filled with cool facts about the flora.

Hey, Sunshine!

Maximilian Sunflower in Brockdale Park

Maximilian Sunflower in Brockdale Park

Eryngo is a prairie plant with purple flower heads shaped like pineapples, each about as big as your thumb.

Eryngo in Brockdale Park

Eryngo in Brockdale Park

Here’s the water wheel on site at the park. In the background you can see a deck with a roof shaped like the wings of a raptor in flight. Volunteers had set up a spotting scope on the deck for up-close views of birds visiting the lake.

Water Wheel in Brockdale Park

Water Wheel in Brockdale Park

BPRC’s offerings include First Saturdays, their on-site programming the first Saturday of every month. One such event drew me there and that’s how these pictures came about. You’ll find details on First Saturdays and more on their website.

You should go. You’ll have a hoot!

Great Horned Owl / Blackland Prairie Raptor Center

Great Horned Owl / Blackland Prairie Raptor Center