Category Archives: birds

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.

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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:

BPRC_PF_72

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

Swallow tales

Thursday, June 6
A pair of barn swallows start building a nest on the fire sprinkler you can see from my front door. In three days, the parents weave and compact bits of straw and mud and mystery goo into a twee bowl for their babies-to-be.

SwallowNone2

The sprinkler is about 10 feet above the ground and tucked away in a corner, so the nest is protected from strong winds. These winged structural engineers know their cantilevers. And based on the same principle, here’s a swallow’s nest built by humans!

The Swallow's Nest Castle on the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine

The Swallow’s Nest Castle on the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine.

Lovely, don’t you think? I hope to visit someday. In the meantime, I get to admire this marvel of avian architecture up close:

Perfectly perched for protection

“Our house is a very very very fine house”

But the “two cats in the yard” had better stay away. 🙂

***
So almost a month goes by after nest building is complete. Mom and dad take turns to incubate the eggs. And then one day, I hear cheeps!

Friday, July 5
Two baby swallows are peeking out the nest. Fuzzy but not fluffy, and all eyes and mouth at this point, especially at feeding time, when they open wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide.

The parent is obvious, but look closely and you’ll see two fuzzy little heads too.

Wednesday, July 10
A third baby appears. It was in the nest all along but hidden from view. When I returned from work today, the babies were so hyper, I thought they were going to fall out.

So thoughtful and sweet.

My neighbor’s note along with layers of bath towels on the floor to give the babies a soft place to land.

Another good thing about the towels is that they catch all the bird poop. Two grown-ups and three babies make lots of it! I saw a baby birdie position itself so its little bottom was hanging off the edge of the nest before it let go of a neat white torpedo that landed on the towel, ten feet down. Not even a week old, it just knew what to do. Either that, or the parents have firm house rules: posters are okay, poop is not.

Wednesday, July 17
The babies are fluffy versions of the adults they’ll soon be. The parents get agitated if I so much as open my front door to step outside. I know they’re guarding the nest and their young, but it’s the only way I know to leave my apartment or I’d climb out the balcony and rappel down the side of the building. When mom and dad are away looking for food, I take all the pictures I want from below of the baby birds. I’m not in their face—hope they feel safe.

Uno!

Uno!

The third bird is taking a nap.

Dos!

All three together! This fluorescent light is most unflattering, they say.

Tres! We’ll pose, but can you do something about this fluorescent lighting, they ask.

All evening they’re very animated and the nest can hardly contain them. They’re more than ready for flying lessons.

Thursday, July 18
Morning comes and the nest is empty! Tear. The fledglings are out, testing their wings. Yay!

***

The birdies come back to visit now and then. Their loud cheeps are my signal to look out the front door. Dark purple coats. Aviator glasses. Looking sharp!

Monday, July 22
Another cube-bound corporate day. I come home to the perfect antidote. This:

The missing third sibling, the one that lay low as a newborn, is probably out doing sorties.

The missing third sibling, the one that lay low as a newborn, is out doing sorties.

Window tweet-ment

Image

This adorable Birds on a Branch vinyl decal from Elephannie totally brightened up
the brown accent wall in my apartment. When I’m reading in bed, I’m under a tree
in a meadow, with birds chirping overhead.

Flit over to Elephannie for birds, animals, flowers, foliage, chalkboard vinyl,
monograms and more in an I’ll-take-one-of-each collection of super cute decals.

Songbird rehab

Warbler in distress On May 8 as I was leaving my office building, I saw a beautiful little bird sitting on the ground. Olive feathers, yellow breast and smaller than a sparrow, it didn’t fly away when it saw me walking out, like I thought it would. It just stayed put, looking at me from the corner of its beady eye, on guard. I bent down for a closer look–something was not quite right with the bird’s right leg/wing. I’m guessing it hurt itself when it flew into the glass, mistaking the reflected tree for a real one.

Hotline help Thanks to a refrigerator magnet picked up at a public library event, I have in my cell phone the DFW Wildlife Coalition hotline number. The coalition seeks “to reduce, through public outreach and education, the incidence of orphaned or euthanized native wildlife in the Dallas / Fort Worth area.” When I called the volunteer-staffed hotline, I was asked to leave a message with the assurance that calls would be returned within an hour. Sure enough, a volunteer called back, asked a couple questions about the bird I’d found, then gave me the phone number of a bird rehab-er who lives not 10 miles from my place. The rehab-er instructed me to bring the injured bird to her in a shoebox lined with paper towels and holes punched in it for air.

Toaster box bird transporter 30 minutes later, I was at the rehab-er’s place with the birdie in the box my toaster came in. Bit of a struggle getting the bird in the box–all it probably saw was a cardboard cage being held open for it, and it made a valiant effort to fly, managing to take off and land 3 feet away, with all the smoothness of a poorly aimed paper plane. I gave it a few minutes, thinking–if you fly away, you’re really okay and I won’t have to take you to this lady who’ll help you heal. But it just sat there. I gently grasped its tiny body (all of one or two ounces), put it in the box and taped the box shut.

In good hands The rehab-er pulled the bird out of the box with one swift motion, looked it in the eye and declared: “Don’t worry, little guy! We’re gonna have you flying again in no time.” So sweet! Hope the bird is now all healed and flying again.

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PS This is my first post with no pictures, but what can I say–getting the bird to the rehab-er was foremost on my mind. Only click on this excellent likeness of my feathered friend if you want to overdose on cuteness. Tweet!