We came across this flock of California quail (Callipela californica) feeding along the trial last Saturday. I’m posting this not because I think it’s a particularly nice photo but because I was impressed at how many of them there were. I understand that in prolific breeding years quail can have two broods with up to 20 eggs per clutch. I count 29 here, a covey of multiple families.

I’ve been hearing some beautiful birdsong now that it’s warm enough to leave our windows open. I finally traced one particularly nice song to the fox sparrow (passerella iliaca). One down, two or three dozen more to go. No complaints there. It’s some of the best music available.

Here’s a hummingbird as it worked its way through lunch. Hummers are fascinating birds. Their wings move in a figure eight motion which allows them to move forward, backward, sideways, up and down. They can even fly upside down for short distances.

Hummingbirds have a heart rate that can be as high as 1,250 beats per minute while they fly and forage. At rest it can slow to 250 beats per minute. To conserve their energy reserves they can lower their body temperature to 55 degrees F (13C) and their heartcan slow down to 50 beats per minute.

Today is Independence Day in the U.S.

The bald eagle was chosen in 1782 as the symbol of our new nation, though not without some controversy. Benjamin Franklin felt eagles were birds of “bad moral character” because they rob food from other birds. Franklin felt the turkey a brave and more respectable candidate. His loss was our gain. After all, what would people in the U.S. eat on Thanksgiving Day? Certainly not our national bird!

Be safe and sane if you’re celebrating Independence Day. I’m of a mind to grill a turkey burger.

I love hummingbirds. There are a few places I can reliably see them on my regular walks, most of them too distant for a good shot of these tiny avian powerhouses.

The chin area of the males looks black most of the time, but when they turn just so it is a rich iridescent red. It’s not surprising that this bird is the “cover boy” of “Birds of the Puget Sound Region.” I crept up as close as I could to see if I could catch one of these little fellows showing off the red feathers. You can catch the tiniest bit of it here toward his shoulder.

This is a shot straight out of the camera. “You want some of this iridescence?! Here you go, lady! Now leave me alone!”

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Weekly Top Shot #83

After taking the shots of the eagle posted here yesterday, we encountered this trio of peacocks on the road. They acted like three birdbrains that had just broken out of jail without a leader or a plan. “Where the heck are we?” “I dunno. I followed you.” “Should we go back that way?” “Naaah. We’ve been there.”

“There’s that person standing there. Bushes there and there. Let’s go this way.”

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Weekly Top Shot #82