Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico is an outstanding place to photograph birds during the winter months. This picture was in mid December several years ago. I was traveling around the back section of the North Loop of the refuge after a wintry shower and this magnificent rainbow formed in the sky. I stopped to position myself to have a good view of the rainbow. As I was scanning for the ideal perspective, this Red-tailed Hawk swooped in and touched down on this bare tree with the rainbow as a backdrop. The hawk has undoubtedly just ingested a grisly meal, as shown by the blood of his prey on his feet and beak. Even though the Red-tail didn’t wipe his face and hands after eating, he finished my quest for that ideal rainbow picture viewpoint.
I captured this Bald Eagle with an enormous fish in its talons at Conowingo Dam. The Dam is on the Susquehanna River and is a productive place to observe and photograph Eagles. This one was taking off straight towards me on a drizzly, frosty day in November. He or she looks resolved to take that fat fish some place in a hurry. Eagles live for 20-30 years and mate for life, coming back to the same nest year after year. Maybe she or he has a ravenous mouth or two to feed at the nest.
This Wilson’s Snipe is standing at the edge of the marsh in Florida seemingly peering into the water. Snipes are pudgy shorebirds that are so well camouflaged they can disappear into their environment. The Wilson’s Snipe forages for worms or snails by using that exceptionally long beak like a sewing machine in the muck. Snipes can actually swallow prey without lifting their beak out of the mud! The snipe is nocturnal, sleeping most of the day. They come out to feed at sunset or daybreak, or like this one on a drizzly, dark day.
I patiently watched this Female Belted Kingfisher perched on this dead snag. I expected she would swoop down and grab a fish. After what seemed like ages, she took off but passed behind the perch, showing me her tail feathers. But she graciously circled back in front of the snag, allowing me an opportunity for a flight shot. Belted Kingfishers devote a lot of time sitting alone along the edge of streams, watching the water and hunting for fish. They disappear rapidly down to the water to dive for fish, but this one left her favorite fishing spot just to shop for a better vantage point. This pretty lady flew to another snag because maybe the fish are tastier on the other side of the water?
The Swallow-Tailed Kite soars in silently and seems to appear out of thin air and disappears just as silently. I have read it is because this striking bird of prey rarely flaps its wings. It changes directions as it swoops in the air overhead by pivoting its tail feathers! They are elegant as they feed on the wing and sail stealthily.