Bald Eagle with fish


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I captured this Bald Eagle with an enormous fish in its talons at Conowingo Dam. The Dam is on the Susquehanna River and is a productive place to observe and photograph Eagles. This one was taking off straight towards me on a drizzly, frosty day in November. He or she looks resolved to take that fat fish some place in a hurry. Eagles live for 20-30 years and mate for life, coming back to the same nest year after year. Maybe she or he has a ravenous mouth or two to feed at the nest.

sandra calderbank
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Snipes


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This Wilson’s Snipe is standing at the edge of the marsh in Florida seemingly peering into the water. Snipes are pudgy shorebirds that are so well camouflaged they can disappear into their environment. The Wilson’s Snipe forages for worms or snails by using that exceptionally long beak like a sewing machine in the muck. Snipes can actually swallow prey without lifting their beak out of the mud! The snipe is nocturnal, sleeping most of the day. They come out to feed at sunset or daybreak, or like this one on a drizzly, dark day.

Sandra Calderbank
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Female Belted Kingfisher


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I patiently watched this Female Belted Kingfisher perched on this dead snag. I expected she would swoop down and grab a fish. After what seemed like ages, she took off but passed behind the perch, showing me her tail feathers. But she graciously circled back in front of the snag, allowing me an opportunity for a flight shot. Belted Kingfishers devote a lot of time sitting alone along the edge of streams, watching the water and hunting for fish. They disappear rapidly down to the water to dive for fish, but this one left her favorite fishing spot just to shop for a better vantage point. This pretty lady flew to another snag because maybe the fish are tastier on the other side of the water?

Sandra Calderbank
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The Elegant Swallow-tailed Kite


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The Swallow-Tailed Kite soars in silently and seems to appear out of thin air and disappears just as silently. I have read it is because this striking bird of prey rarely flaps its wings. It changes directions as it swoops in the air overhead by pivoting its tail feathers! They are elegant as they feed on the wing and sail stealthily.

sanddra calderbank
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Pied-billed Grebe with shrimp in beak


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As I wandered around a pond in Florida, this Pied-billed Grebe popped up from a dive with a shrimp in its beak. The beak has a thick black ring during breeding season so the Pied-billed Grebe gets its name from the “pied” appearance of its beak. That shrimp looks pretty fat and tasty, I am amazed that little Grebe could swallow it!

sandra calderbank
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King Rail


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This beautiful King Rail was walking along a berm road in Viera Wetlands in early March. These Rails are highly secretive and scarcely encountered. It was a first sighting for me. As I sought to photograph it, he presented his wings in this magnificent posture and granted me a few moments for a picture. It looks as if he is showing me his handsome wings, although I am certain this display has an entirely different meaning to other birds, especially a female King Rail

sandra calderbank
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Male Northern Pintail walking across frozen lake


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I photographed this Male Northern Pintail walking on a frozen lake in New Mexico. Northern Pintails are dabbling ducks, feeding with their head under the water so I don’t imagine this one hung around for long with the lakes frozen. I can’t imagine why their feet don’t freeze but ducks have a countercurrent heat exchange system in their legs. Their feathered body can be totally warm while the legs are cool and as a result they lose only a small amount of heat to the environment. Unlike our feet and legs, a duck’s legs are tendons and bones that require minimal oxygenated blood. I predict he is thinking, ‘How do I get my other foot off the ice so I can fly out of here?

sandra calderbank
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Pair of Snow Geese in flight


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Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge is home to thousands of Snow Geese during the winter. I captured this pair of Snow Geese in flight in front of a distant mountain in December in New Mexico. You can find the geese in the evening and night in the water and they take off in the morning all at once creating a lot of noise and a “blast off”. It’s as if they hear a command to fly and they all react. These two were flying back to the water to spend the night away from predators. Snow Geese feed in groups also, consuming all the vegetation and grains in surrounding available fields.

sandra calderbank
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Ferruginous Hawk


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I captured this Ferruginous Hawk in flight over an open field in New Mexico. I did not recognize what kind of hawk I was watching until another bird photographer at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge asked if I had seen that Ferruginous Hawk. Identification of this handsome, unusual Hawk without the guidance of a fellow bird photographer would have been impossible. Ferruginous means “rust colored” and this Ferruginous Hawk is a light-morph with a very pale body.

sandra calderbank
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Great Kiskadee feeding on red berries


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I observed this Great Kiskadee feeding on red berries. The Great Kiskadee is a Tyrant-fly catcher. They feed on flying insects in the air and also catch lizards from trees and dive for fish like kingfishers. Kiskadees also eat berries, so I was hoping this Kiskadee would swoop down and capture this berry as it slipped from his beak because they are so proficient at feeding on the wing, but he just let it drop. I suppose there were too many alternative choices to eat, and this falling berry wasn’t worth the flight effort.


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sandra calderbank
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