Swallows

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor);
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; MAR 2019

Swallows are those little birds we see with their distinctive back swept, pointed wings and their forked “swallow tail”. They maneuver through the sky at high speed, in a seemingly erratic pattern, catching and eating insects in flight. They will also eat mollusks, spiders and sometimes fruit.

In the spring, along the American River, in the Sacramento area, I commonly see two types of swallows: Tree Swallows and Cliff Swallows. When I am lucky, I’ll see a Bank Swallow. I have been told we also have Violet-green Swallows but I haven’t seen any.

The most common swallow that I see is the Tree Swallow. They are called Tree Swallows because the nest in cavities in trees. It is a beautiful iridescent blue on its head and back, white on its breast and underside and blackish color on wings and tail. These birds live along the gulf coast, southern Mexico and Central America in the winter and move north throughout the US in summer.

The Cliff Swallow is a multi-colored bird with off-white underside, gray-brown wings, blue-gray back and head cap and a brown-red neck. They are quire beautiful. They make nests of mud that appear precariously perched on a cliff face. They also build nest in man-made structures like bridges and buildings. They are very social; many birds build nests near one another and hunt together. They also live along the gulf coast, southern Mexico and Central America in the winter and move north throughout the US in summer.

The bank swallow is a bird with different names in different parts of the world. In Europe, it is the Sand Martin while on the Indian subcontinent it is called the collard sand martin. They make a nest, lined with straw or feathers, in a hole they burrow into sand or gravel. They have mostly white underparts but have a gray back, wings and head. They will sometimes have a prominent grey collar at the base of their neck. They winter across they southern 1/3 of the US in winter then migrate north in the summer.

Here are some images of these beautiful swallows.

Please click on caption to see these images in higher resolution.

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) , American River Parkway,
Orangevale, CA; APR 2019
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia). (AKA Sand Martin);
Lake Natomas, Orangevale, CA; APR 2019;
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor);
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; MAR 2019

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota);
American River Parkway, Orangevale, CA; APR 2019

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota);
American River Parkway, Orangevale, CA; APR 2019


These and other images are available for purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

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The Rookery

Great Blue Heron (Ardea Herodias) in the Rookery
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; APR 2019

In our area, we have a few rookeries; communal nesting areas for herons, egrets and cormorants. There are other birds that nest in rookeries but I am not aware of any I our area.

Rookeries are interesting. The two I see most often are in a small cluster of tall trees along side of a river. The birds nest high above the ground. Each bird tends to their own nest. But the colonies can contain two dozen or more nests. The herons, egrets and cormorants will even nest in the same tree. Many believe protection drives their desire to nest communally.  More roommates make it easier to spot and chase away predators.

I visited both rookeries last week and it appears to me that the birds are sitting on eggs. If I am right, we should have babies soon.  So, I’ll keep checking back and when I can, post pictures. I can’t get close to the nets; I am about 75 yards away. So, I won’t be able to photograph the chicks until they are big enough to pop their heads above the sides of the nest.

Here are a few rookery images. Take note of the male Double-crested Cormorant. He is displaying his orange patch and the crest of feathers on his head. For me, its rare to see the crests displayed.

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) on the Nest
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; APR 2019
Great Egrets (Ardea alba) on the Nest
American River Parkway, Folsom, CA; APR 2019

A Predator and Some Prey

Coyote (Canis latrans);
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; FEB 2019

Here are images of a some animals that I’ve taken over the last few weeks; the Coyote, the Black-tailed Jackrabbit and the California Ground Squirrel.

Take notice of the coyote. His eyes face front. That is a trait of predators. The ground squirrel and the jackrabbit need to keep their eyes open for predators while they forage, so their eyes are on the side. Remember the adage:  “Eyes in the front, the animal hunts. Eyes on the side, the animal hides.”

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.


Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus);
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; FEB 2019
California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi);
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; APR 2019

These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Some North American Deer

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) browsing in the Snow,
Along Rt 30 near Everett, PA; FEB 2019

Here are some images of deer I recently photographed.

The White-tailed deer were spotted in rural southwestern Pennsylvania (US) grazing through some new fallen snow.

The Black-tailed Mule Deer was taken at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center here in Sacramento. I suppose he was taking a break after the rut. He’ll soon drop his antlers and begin growing them anew.

By the way, if you are ever in the Sacramento area, you should pay a visit to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. You are almost guaranteed to see deer, wild turkeys and many birds. I occasionally see a jack rabbit and coyotes also.

Black-tailed Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) Buck In Winter,
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; JAN 2019

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

These and otehr images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Some Small and Pretty Birds

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audobon Group (Dendroica Coronata)
Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Sacramento, CA; NOV 2018;

Here are a few pretty, small birds we see around the Sacramento area.

Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis),
Sailor Bar, Fair Oaks, CA; JAN 2019
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus);
Sailor Bar, Fair Oaks, CA; JAN 2019
Female Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)
Sailor Bar, Fair Oaks, CA; JAN 2019

These and other images are available for purchase on my website, www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

Birds Around A Local Pond

I regularly take long walks at different sections of the American River Parkway between Folsom and Fair Oaks. At one spot, along Lake Notomas, there is a small pond tucked back but alongside the bike trail. I never know what I am going to find. Last week, I was treated to what is a rare site to me – some hooded mergansers. Their cousins, the common mergansers, stick around all year. I often see belted kingfishers and acorn woodpeckers in that area also.

Acorn Woodpeckers are ubiquitous in this area. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, their behavior is different from most other woodpeckers. They find acorns and pound them into holes in dead trees. When they can’t find a hole, they make one. Later, they come back and eat them – if the squirrels and other wildlife don’t get them first.

Regards,

Larry

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution

Note: These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us.

 

Sandhill Cranes Are Back

Sandhill Cranes populate much of the North America. But here, around Sacramento, we live along the Pacific Flyway; one of the primary migratory paths for birds heading to their wintering spot. One of the treats is that we attract large numbers of Sandhill Cranes who spend their nights in flooded rice fields and their days foraging in fields of cut grasses and grains.

Note: Please click on caption to see images at higher resolution.

Note: These and other images are available to purchase on my website, www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us.