The Northern Pintail is an elegant long tailed dabbling duck. They are very unique in North America with their long slender body and long pointed tail. The Pintail has a long neck and is very fast and agile in flight, nicknamed the “Greyhound of the air”. The Northern Pintail male and female are very different with the female a very plain brown. The male has a bright white breast, chocolate brown head and gray body with a very long tail. They are Dabbling ducks, which means that they feed mostly on the surface of the water instead of diving underwater for food. They “up end” to use their long necks to reach aquatic plants underwater with their tails in the air. They maintain this dabbling position with their head down by paddling their feet in the water. I sure am glad I don’t have to eat in that position with my head under water and tail in the air!
Posts Tagged: bird photography
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is one of my favorite birding spots. I was visiting this Delaware wildlife refuge this spring and saw this Mute Swan in the sunset light. I photographed the Swan as it started flapping it’s wings and then started running along the water surface and took off in flight. Mute Swans are beautiful and graceful and very exotic looking. They are also HUGE with a wing span up to 94 inches and weighing up to 30 pounds.
Mute Swans take off from the water by running really fast and flapping their wings until they build up enough speed to take off. They can fly up to 50 miles per hour! I had no idea until I read about Mute Swans that they are not native to the United States. They were all imported from Europe in the 19th century to “adorn” parks and large estates. The Mute Swan has flourished in the wild and are seen as “invasive” in some areas because they are very aggressive and also because they eat as much as 8 pounds of aquatic vegetation per day. Some references state that they can displace native bird species and can also be a danger to humans because of their fierce defense of their nests.
It is hard to believe that this beautiful, graceful Swan can be a hazard. I’ll be sure to always observe from a safe distance!
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.
Watching Bald Eagles is such a wonderful treat! Unless you live on the coast of Alaska, Bald Eagles are quite uncommon (at least in the mountains of North Carolina they are quite rare). Last year a friendly fellow photographer shared the secret of the Conowingo Eagles. I want to thank you Bruce DeBonnis The Intrepid Amateur for sharing this wonderful place to watch and photograph Bald Eagles! Conowingo is on the Susquehanna River and in November and December the Eagles are very active. It was my first time using my new Canon 5Dsr for flight shots and it greatly exceeded my expectations. I would love to hear what other bird photographers think of the 5Dsr. I am very happy with the performance of this 50 MP camera.
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.