American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is the smallest North American falcon, and also the most colorful.

American Kestrel
American Kestrel

The pairs of black vertical slashes on the sides of their faces give them a distinctive look along with what appeared to me as “eyes in the back of their head” as he swiveled around.

American Kestrel
American Kestrel

Here he is settling himself after “rousing”, a shaking action that lifts all the feathers.

American Kestrel
American Kestrel

American Kestrel, Falco sparverius

The Center for Birds of Prey offers photographers an opportunity to take close-up photographs of owls and other birds of prey a few times a year.

The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 22, 2018,  Awanda, SC.

Wood Duck With Chicks

Mama Wood Duck and her brood posed for a family portrait on one of the new alligator ramps installed around the rice field. I counted fourteen chicks while they were sitting still, but some were snoozing with their heads down so there may have been more. All About Birds says their clutch can have up to sixteen eggs.

Female Wood Duck with Chicks
Wood Duck with Chicks

A Common Gallinule was doing his best to photo bomb the portrait, paddling along behind them. I waited, hoping he would move along.

Female Wood Duck with Chicks
Wood Duck with Chicks

He did, but Mama felt it was time to move on, too, and they all bailed off in one fluid motion off the side of the ramp away from me.

Female Wood Duck with Chicks
Wood Duck with Chicks

Eurasian Kestrel

The Eurasian Kestrel is  widespread in Europe, Asia, and Africa. They are small compared with other birds of prey, but larger than most songbirds. The females are slightly larger then the male, weighing in at 6.5 ounces (184 grams) on average.

Eurasian Kestrel
Female Eurasian Kestrel perched on handler’s glove

In the full side view shows off the brown and black coloration of the wings, useful as camouflage.

Eurasian Kestrel
Female Eurasian Kestrel

The sun was warming us up after a chilly start and the Kestrel seemed quite content to puff up a bit and enjoy the sun.

Eurasian Kestrel
Female Eurasian Kestrel

Eurasian Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus

The Center for Birds of Prey offers photographers an opportunity to take close-up photographs of owls and other birds of prey a few times a year.

The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 22, 2018,  Awanda, SC.

Juvenile White Ibis

White Ibis are brown when they are young, and gradually become mottled, then change to full white.

Juvenile White Ibis
Juvenile White Ibis

Peek-a-boo and see my bright blue eye!

Juvenile White Ibis
Juvenile White Ibis

This gnarly tree that hang over a pond are attractive perches for the Ibis, some taking up a position out in the open.

Juvenile White Ibis
Juvenile White Ibis

A group of six or eight were perched through out this tree, blending in with the yellowish leaves.

Juvenile White Ibis
Juvenile White Ibis

Harris’ Hawk

The Harris’s Hawk can be found in the southwestern United States,  through arid regions of Central America and South America. They are one of a few birds of prey known to hunt cooperatively.

Harris’s Hawk
Harris’s Hawk – Sony Alpha 6500, Sony 55-210 MM lens

This Harris’s Hawk was one of the birds that flew as part of the photography day presentation. It was fascinating to watch but my images weren’t great. I’ve included this one to show his beautiful brown and red colors.

Harris’s Hawk
Harris’s Hawk

I had much better in flight shots when I participated in this event in November, 2016.

Harris’s Hawk,  Parabuteo unicinctus

The Center for Birds of Prey offers photographers an opportunity to take close-up photographs of owls and other birds of prey a few times a year.

The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 22, 2018,  Awanda, SC.

Great Egret Back to the Nest

It’s always fun to watch the greetings as one Great Egret returns to the nest where its mate has been tending the eggs or chicks.

Great Egret Returns to Nest
Great Egret Returns to Nest

Meanwhile the neighbors pay no attention as they wait for their mates.

Great Egret Returns to Nest
Great Egret Returns to Nest

The Egret who was in the nest plopped back down, but I think there was one chick under there. You can just see some fuzz of chick(s) that have hatched in the nest on the lower left.

Great Egret Returns to Nest
Great Egret Returns to Nest

Ural Owl

The Ural Owl is a medium-sized nocturnal owl found in Europe and northern Asia. They are in the same genus, Strix, as the locally more familiar Barred Owl.

Ural Owl
Ural Owl

The close ups below were taken with the Sony Alpha 6500, Sony 55-210 mm lens.

Ural Owl
Ural Owl

The ridge of feathers at the edge of the face create a disc, which works to trap and focus sound.

Ural Owl
Ural Owl

Ural Owl, Strix uralensis

The Center for Birds of Prey offers photographers an opportunity to take close-up photographs of owls and other birds of prey a few times a year.

The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 22, 2018,  Awanda, SC.

Now Only Three

Not surprisingly the nest that had four Great Blue Heron chicks now only has three. I don’t know what happened to the fourth; he might have fallen or the other three might have driven him over the edge as they competed for food.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

The three that are left have gotten quite active, spending some of their awake time chewing on each other.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

They also practice “wingercising,” working their wings before they take their first flights.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

Snowy Egrets Synchronized Flying

And the chase was on. It was hard to tell who was who. These two Snowy Egrets were trying to impress a prospective mate.

Snowy Egrets
Snowy Egrets

The flying skill was quite impressive.

Their feet and bills have turned from yellow to orange for mating season.

Snowy Egrets
Snowy Egrets

Where this duo finally landed was a bit far for a good shot, but there was no mistaking the mating dance.

Snowy Egrets
Snowy Egrets

The Great Egret sitting on her nest was unperturbed by all this activity and a third Snowy Egret tucked himself out of the way.

Snowy Egrets
Snowy Egrets

Spectacled Owl Chicks

The Center for Birds of Prey has an active breeding program. The chicks they raise are used in educational programs here and also are swapped to other similar facilities around the US.

These cuties were not on the schedule for our Photography Day, but conditions were good for these two Spectacled Owl chicks to come out and strut their stuff.

Spectacled Owl Chick
Spectacled Owl Chick

Well, mostly they  just sat; they could walk and did a little wing flapping. I neglected to note how old they are, somewhere in the few week range.

Spectacled Owl Chick
Spectacled Owl Chick

Cuteness times two:

Spectacled Owl Chick
Spectacled Owl Chick

The Center for Birds of Prey offers photographers an opportunity to take close-up photographs of owls and other birds of prey a few times a year.

The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 22, 2018,  Awanda, SC.