Thanks Bixa & Kerouac - you are so right about the eating! We are going through packets of frozen chicken pieces as there are 4 kites, 2 storks, and the 6 or so uninvited guests, namely the Ibis's. I don't like them to get in on the act as their duty is to eat the crickets in my lawn! They do get a daily dose of bread every morning and I find it incredible that if the bread is the least bit hard they drop it in the pool and immediately retrieve it and nibble it until they get it down! Now, I see the storks do the exact same thing but with chicken pieces - my swimming pool has had quite a few lost gizzards and necks...........I can't scoop them out either because of the safety net (very hard to unloosen), so I have bleached chicken that I hope the pool-cleaning machine is sucking up!
Tod, what if you put some water out where you feed the birds? Do you think the proximity might encourage them to use that, rather than the swimming pool? Maybe some kind of wide shallow basin right next to the food might work, and not be too messy or unsightly.
Good point Bixa - There is a fountain with a large bowl of water right next to the pool but I think the vast blue(I'm sure they don't see colour) anyway, large amount of water appears similar to a farm pond or small dam of water in the wild, so they love walking around it, poking their beaks into my pot plants, picking up some of the white pebbles and tossing them around (little monkeys!) and even taking a few guarded steps onto the pool net. I'm terrified they will snap those pencil thin legs This is good for close observation as we have our patio leading onto the pool area and as long as we sit quietly they come right up close to catch a chicken piece. Then sometimes go over and dip it in the pool water. Lately, I have been feeding EVERYONE down on the lower terrace where my veg beds are. What a free-for-all when the gang comes swooping down! We tried to make a movie yesterday and if I get it right you will have to help me get it onto UTube ;D
Do you think they can "tell time" the way dogs do, and know when you're going to come out with the grub?
You know I'm always glad to do whatever I can to help you get your wonderful pictures posted here. I had to learn a few new things about saving videos when I got the new camera, so we can help each other. PM me if you want any directions. If the directions turn out to be useful, they can be posted in Image Bank Basics.
I can't believe I'm putting these awful pictures in with Tod's super shots, but ... This yellow beauty is visiting my yard. The photos were taken with zoom through a slightly tinted, not very clean window. They're bad, but give an idea of color and the rosy marking on the throat and face. So far, I can't identify it. It's mid-sized -- smaller than a robin, bigger than a sparrow.
Those shots are pretty good Bixa and show enough detail to be able to identify the bird. Getting the 'perfect' shot is not at all easy with birds....somehow they get one all flustered because you know they are going to fly off any second so one doesn't take the care you should in hurriedly getting the shot
I looked in my bird book to see if we have the same bird. Not exactly, but very close - Both have the familiar trait of the White ring around the eyes. Ours don't have yellow beaks, but black ones. Instead of the rosy markings on the throat - our species have cinnamon coloured flanks. Ours are called a Yellow White-eye or another species called a Cape White-eye. My book says this: WHITE-EYES: Family Zosteropidae, very small yellow-green birds which glean insects from leaves and probe flowers for nectar. Unless breeding, occur in flocks which go from tree to tree where they search the foliage closely, frequently in the inverted position.
Another very secretive bird and difficult to see but not to hear, is Burchell's Coucal. It lives only on the East coast of South Africa as far north as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, travelling slightly west into Botswana before surrounding the entire coastline of the Cape. I have only caught glimpses of our resident coucal(s)? twice and was unable to get a decent shot, but while travelling through the Kruger National Park last year managed to get two fairly good shots.
It is a fairly large bird - about the size of a pigeon with lovely rusty colour feathers.
Now, just the opposite to the Coucals are the Rollers. These beatiful birds - especially in flight - are everywhere displaying themselves for all it's worth! They sit on the highest old tree stump they can find and call their mates all day. You can't go more than a few hundred metres without spotting one.
This shot I took was of a Lilac Breasted Roller (the other most seen is the European Roller but is not quite as pretty). These birds don't fly off the minute you get close and are very easy to get nice shots.
Check the Cleopatra eyes!
I know Starlings are found everywhere in the world (just about!) but I don't think this particular Cape Glossy Starling is found anywhere except South Africa. I see that the Indian Myna is also a starling!
In amongst the bushes are these large turkeysize Ground Hornbills which can sometimes be spotted if they wander unto a clearing.
This is a Grey Hornbill - Very prolific up in the Northern parts of South Africa, but according to my bird book map, they only just reach down into the Kruger Park. This is a male - the female has the upper mandible a creamy colour and also the tip of her beak is red. (lipstick no doubt!)
The same territory goes for this Yellow-billed Hornbill, but they are seen everywhere in the park, especially around picnic spots where they demand you give them a chip or piece of bread. At one such spot called Afsaal ( direct English - Saddle- off) you have to guard what you are eating as they swoop down like Gulls and grab the lot!
Sticking it's head out of the tree - like a great Loch Ness Monster - is a Trumpeter Hornbill, which is definitely heard before it's seen. The resonating call sounds like a baby crying and reverberates all around, daring you to find where this large bird is hiding.
Bixa - In the first pic (with the Lilac-breated Roller showing us his back) the part you see with a lilac edge is the top of his wing. Might have snapped the pic just before he took off so the wing may have been moving forward...don't know. Sometimes in the heat they sit with their wings opened slightly. I would say that is probably the answer.
Kerouac - I checked with Wiki(leaks)pedia and they say besides a high fruit diet it eats large insects. I think that could mean lizards and such like as well. I was shocked to read they make good pets!!
As I wade through my bird photos I will be adding more to some of the birds already posted here - like I found some pics of those pesky hornbills with red beaks.
I have only encountered 2 owls in the wild. Both were seen in broad daylight. The first little owl is the smallest owl in South Africa, called the African Scops Owl. They sit on the same branch (perch) close up against the trunk of a tree in total camouflage, which makes it so darn hard to spot! Luckily this little fellow has been using the same perch for years and all who call at the Afsaal picnic spot know exactly where to find him - it does take some time to actually see him!
This is a Goliath Heron sitting on it's nest with wings spread slightly to shade it's chicks. You can just see the nest through the branches.
Standing on the edge of a small dam of water I got several shots of this Grey Heron - I love the black 'ponytail' feathers!
Astounding photos, as always, Tod. You always seem to catch the birds in some kind of interesting movement or pose. The one of the heron reaching back to groom itself is as wonderful a bird picture as I've ever seen.
Bixa- these are from my stash of photos mostly taken last year in Kruger National Park - From the photos only the Coucal also lives in my garden. I have more garden birds coming up, but first:
This is a Kori Bustard - not often seen as apart from the park, live in the interior stretching westwards.
It is as big as a 7+- child:
Here is one of the ugliest birds alive- The good 'ol Vulture! This one is called a Lappetfaced Vulture and dominates all others at a food source. I've sat and watched them fighting over a carcass, believe me it's a real free-for-all over the food.
Getting back to garden birds for a moment, this pretty boy is a regular visitor to my garden but lately has not been seen for quite a few months despite the amount of bananas I put out each day. He is called a Crested Barbet.
This is a female Redwing Starling - the chest is covered with a kinda stripey look. The males don't have that.
This was a lucky shot and one I'm pretty chuffed about! Crossing a low-level bridge in Kruger this Giant Kingfisher was on the lookout for small fish. He wasn't concerned at all that I was right next to him in the vehicle.
Tod, how shall I say this? What wild and wonderful garden birds! The crested barbet looks as those its feathers were doodled in with colored pencils. It's a beautiful bird. I love that pose of the starling -- excellent shot. But the kingfisher pictures -- whoo! Obviously I don't know about African kingfishers, but the American ones are usually viewed from below or a glimpse as they swoop over the water. Very lucky, very good shots.
Your Big Bird pics are great, too, both the bustard and the vulture. I didn't realize bustards were such handsome birds. The vulture is really rather noble in its way, and the photo sequence is fantastic.
Bixa, Thank you for your kind comments and observations - VERY much appreciated! On Sunday 6th Feb I will be going to Kruger Park for a 10 day stint. IF I can borrow my sons laptop I might be able to do a "Reporting From Kruger Live" account of what birds and animals we find on a daily basis. It all depends on the laptop.
The Yellow billed Kites and their two young have skedaddled back to North Africa - left about 10 days ago. I only know they'd gone because when I put the chicken out only Woolly & Woolleen came to gobble up everything. They seem to have taken up permanent residence around our area and fly in like clockwork for an evening feed......reminds me, it's their dinner time now!
This yellow beauty is visiting my yard. The photos were taken with zoom through a slightly tinted, not very clean window. They're bad, but give an idea of color and the rosy marking on the throat and face. So far, I can't identify it. It's mid-sized -- smaller than a robin, bigger than a sparrow.
Sorry this is so tardy, but I think bixa's mystery bird (more images back at #64) may have been a Wesern Tanager. In summer (in my yard!) they have a bright red head, black wings and yellow body. In winter, and in juvenal plumage, they have a more subdued coloring. They also have a white eyering at that time. And bixa's size description is just right for a tanager.
Kimby, thank you SO MUCH! I have been out of town & am only now seeing your identification. I only have the Peterson Field Guide to Mexican Birds. It often leaves out other N. American birds that are covered in the other Peterson guides. This is great!
You guys are so lucky...we don't get those colourful beauties in our garden in the city. We have a cat so most of the little garden birds stay away, we tend to just see starlings, blackbirds, house sparrows, wood pigeons and collared doves at the bird table...
However we also get visits from blue tits, robins, wrens, dunnocks, thrush, chaffinches and goldfinches..I have never been able to photograph them successfully tho...
We don't get any exotic colourful birds either. Just the usual sparrows, turtledoves, starlings, blue tits, magpies. I don't know much about birds anyway, so wouldn't be able to recognize anything unusual. I occasionally hear woodpeckers. We don't have a cat anymore but all our neighbours do.
Tod 2,your bird photos are just astounding and exquisite! My goodness. I had not visited this thread since it was first started and am blown away!!! I took some pics the day before yesterday of some Cedar Waxwings,which pass through here in the Springtime in flocks of hundreds at a time. I fear they aren't very good as I zoomed,or attempted to,and the camera was not very steady.(I was too lazy at the time to bust out the tripod). Another factor was it was very very windy out at the time. I haven't loaded them in the computer yet. We'll see..
Thank you for sharing these with us. Again,just incredible.!
My pictures were taken through glass and without a tripod, so can't compare technically with tod's, but I was flabbergasted to have a Great Grey Owl land on the unfinished deck at the unfinished lake cottage. It's the first one I've ever seen, and I hope a harbinger of future great backyard bird sightings: