This beautiful King Rail was walking along a berm road in Viera Wetlands in early March. These Rails are highly secretive and scarcely encountered. It was a first sighting for me. As I sought to photograph it, he presented his wings in this magnificent posture and granted me a few moments for a picture. It looks as if he is showing me his handsome wings, although I am certain this display has an entirely different meaning to other birds, especially a female King Rail.
I photographed this Male Northern Pintail walking on a frozen lake in New Mexico. Northern Pintails are dabbling ducks, feeding with their head under the water so I don’t imagine this one hung around for long with the lakes frozen. I can’t imagine why their feet don’t freeze but ducks have a countercurrent heat exchange system in their legs. Their feathered body can be totally warm while the legs are cool and as a result they lose only a small amount of heat to the environment. Unlike our feet and legs, a duck’s legs are tendons and bones that require minimal oxygenated blood. I predict he is thinking, ‘How do I get my other foot off the ice so I can fly out of here?’
Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge is home to thousands of Snow Geese during the winter. I captured this pair of Snow Geese in flight in front of a distant mountain in December in New Mexico. You can find the geese in the evening and night in the water and they take off in the morning all at once creating a lot of noise and a “blast off”. It’s as if they hear a command to fly and they all react. These two were flying back to the water to spend the night away from predators. Snow Geese feed in groups also, consuming all the vegetation and grains in surrounding available fields.
Ferruginous Hawk, Light Morph
I captured this Ferruginous Hawk in flight over an open field in New Mexico. I did not recognize what kind of hawk I was watching until another bird photographer at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge asked if I had seen that Ferruginous Hawk. Identification of this handsome, unusual Hawk without the guidance of a fellow bird photographer would have been impossible. Ferruginous means “rust colored” and this Ferruginous Hawk is a light-morph with a very pale body.
I observed this Great Kiskadee feeding on red berries. The Great Kiskadee is a Tyrant-fly catcher. They feed on flying insects in the air and also catch lizards from trees and dive for fish like kingfishers. Kiskadees also eat berries, so I was hoping this Kiskadee would swoop down and capture this berry as it slipped from his beak because they are so proficient at feeding on the wing, but he just let it drop. I suppose there were too many alternative choices to eat, and this falling berry wasn’t worth the flight effort.