Atlantic Puffins are pelagic for most of the year, spending their time alone in the cold open northern ocean a long way off shore. They dig a burrow or tunnel on an island to lay their one solitary egg. Puffins only come onto land to breed in colonies, usually with the same partner in the same burrow, every spring and summer. They bring fish back to the burrows to feed the little “puffling”. The Atlantic Puffin are brightly colored only during breeding season and since breeding season is the only time they are visible it works out perfectly for photographers!
Posts Tagged: bird behavior
The adult Arctic Tern breed and nest mostly in the Arctic but fortunately a few breed and nest on Machias Seal Island. They have beautiful breeding colors with bright red beaks and feet. These Terns mate for life and have the longest migrations of any animal, sometimes with a round trip of 40-50,000 miles. They nest on the ground and are fiercely defensive of their nests and chicks. These two were aggressively defending their chicks and will peck you on the head if they think you are too close to their nest or chicks!
Last spring I was driving around Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and out of the corner of my eye, way back in the dark marshy woods, I saw a pair of Wood Ducks. Of course when I stopped to try and photograph the pair of Wood Ducks, they immediately flew away. I trudged through the marshy swamp trying to find them without success. Over the next few days I went back to that same spot multiple times and waited and waited and waited and finally was rewarded with some images of Wood Ducks. They seem to frequent dark areas that are very difficult to photograph and are very shy.
The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly beautiful birds ever created and I feel fortunate to finally have seen and photographed these colorful waterfowl.
I have always thought Purple Martins (you know the birds that live in the hollowed out gourds) ate tons of mosquitos! Recently on a trip to Plum Island National Wildlife Refuge I spotted someone carefully cleaning the Purple Martin nests. After asking her multiple questions, I learned a lot about these beautiful birds. They DO eat mosquitoes but that is only about 1-2% of their diet. Purple Martins feed mostly on dragonflies! They feed on the fly, meaning they eat and catch food while flying. Mosquitos typically live close to the ground. The Purple Martins don’t fly at night which is when mosquitos are active. I was certainly surprised to learn this fact. They are extremely acrobatic, beautiful birds and I have come to appreciate them much more even though they don’t really eat mosquitos.
I was leaving The Viera Wetlands one April afternoon because it had started to rain and I assumed there would be no more photography action that afternoon. Suddenly this Least Bittern appeared and took off right beside me! What a gift. These small Bitterns are hard to spot because they blend into their surroundings and even more difficult to photograph in flight because it is SO difficult to find them in the reeds. They live a very secretive life and I was blessed to have this one take off right in front of me at a time when I thought photography for that day was over due to rainy weather.