Two weeks ago I explained how birds manage to have sex. But somehow, there are always those species that make things more complicated. Last week’s explanation applied to 97% of bird species. But a few kinds of birds don’t follow the flock.
Take Cassowaries, for example. Both the male and female have what appears to be a penis attached to their cloacas, although the female’s is somewhat smaller than the male’s. It’s used during copulation, but it doesn’t channel sperm. Instead, after penetrating the female, the male expels his semen directly from his cloaca.
Continue reading “Ducks Do It”
Ducks a few feet from my lens. Snow Geese, Canada (and Cackling?) Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, all hanging out together. Beautiful weather. No crowds. And best of all, a new bird for my life list! The day I recently spent at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge complex was about as perfect as a bird photographer’s day can be.
The refuge complex has many locations along the Sacramento River and in the surrounding valley. I had time for two stops, at Colusa NWR and Sacramento NWR. (It took me a while to figure out that Sacramento NWR is part of the Sacramento NWR complex. Talk about confusing!)
Continue reading “Birding the Sacramento Valley”
I wanted to squeeze in at least one more field trip before the first snows, so I joined up with other members of our local Audubon chapter and headed out to Ramah State Wildlife Area. Located in Colorado’s eastern El Paso County, Ramah is surrounded by miles of shortgrass prairie. The views include cows, rolling hills, and Excel Energy’s new windmill farm. There’s a shallow valley that has been dammed to trap rain runoff in wet years.
Continue reading “Birding Ramah SWA”
With my recent weekend in the mountains still fresh in my mind, I was eager to return to the San Luis Valley, in south-central Colorado, to look for more birds. The conference field trips had been crowded, and I figured that ditching the entourage should help me get closer views, and hopefully photographs, of the birds we’d seen the previous weekend. And it just so happened that Pete and I had scheduled a date day. How convenient.
Continue reading “Birding the San Luis Valley”
Want some great birding in northern Utah? I recently discovered a real gem—the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. It’s located on the northeast corner of the Great Salt Lake, just northwest of Ogden off I-15/I-84. The day I visited—midweek in early April—I almost had the place to myself. It was just me and plenty of birds! (Don’t confuse this place with Bear Lake NWR, in Idaho, which is also well worth a visit.) Continue reading “Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge”
Saturday was such a gorgeous day in Colorado, my husband and I headed for the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, just northeast of Denver. There’s something inherently satisfying about taking a place that was once a chemical warfare factory and turning it into a shortgrass prairie abounding in wildlife.
Or at least it was supposed to abound. We’ve been there before, in late spring, when the numerous scrubby areas were full of birds. This visit was quite different.
Continue reading “Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR”
“Oh, it’s just another Mallard.”
How many times have I said that? As a birder, I’m always looking for the rare bird, the unusual find that will add to my life list. Last month’s Snowy Owl fit the bill—getting such a great view of that magnificent predator was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I just got home from a week in northern Oregon and southern Washington. While I did pick up a couple of new species for my list, I mostly saw ducks. Lots of ducks. Hundreds of ducks. (Did I mention I was in Oregon?)
So—I looked at ducks. Really looked. And you know, ducks are pretty cool!
Continue reading “In Praise of Ducks”