Since we’re on the topic of woodpeckers, I thought I’d show you a different kind. This beautiful, puffed out bird was diligently hole checking on an island in Belize. It was traveling with a friend from palm tree to palm tree, which made me realize that the woodpeckers I’ve seen have often traveled in pairs. I’m not entirely sure what kind of woodpecker this is, as it has the face markings of a ladderback woodpecker, but more yellow coloring on the underbelly than usual. I saw them at the same times each day which gave me multiple opportunities to observe their behavior and get some great photos.
This was a treat to finally get to photograph on of the largest woodpeckers in America. Growing up in Australia I didn’t know there were different types of woodpeckers, I thought there was only one. This particular bird is a Pileated Woodpecker that lives in Yosemite National Park. My ignorance about the woodpecker is valid considering they exist worldwide except for Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Madagascar and extreme polar regions. In America, well before I had even seen a woodpecker, I had learned to recognize the signs of woodpecker activity on trees who have had numerous holes poked into them and display naked areas where the bark has been hammered off. I’ve also often heard the bird in the distance hammering on the tree, but not actually seen the individual making all the noise. They hit the tree surprisingly hard with their beaks over and over again at incredible speed, it is a wonder how they don’t have a permanent migraine.
During a recent trip to the west coast of the US, we couldn’t have missed this bird if we’d tried. They are out in numbers around Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park where conifer forests are prominent. Having spent time around Blue Jays (a close relative) in New York I think Stellar’s Jays are by far the noisiest of the two and make their presence known. In addition to numerous distinct vocalizations, they are also known mimics of the calls of other birds, animals and can also produce non-animal sounds.
This gorgeous, nesting osprey was giving me a very stern stare while I was taking her photo. I don’t think it’s her fault though because ospreys look inherently grumpy. Contrary to how this photo appears, I am not close at all, but she spotted me from miles away! After soon deciding that I was nothing worth worrying over, her and her partner went back to usual osprey activities such as mating, eating recently caught fish and general nest building and sitting. I was lucky enough to be able to watch this osprey pair for a few days, and I absolutely loved getting such an insight into their daily activities.
To see a photo of the male osprey, click here.
This brightly colored scarlet macaw was spotted with it’s equally impressive partner, chowing down on beach almonds (Terminalia catappa tree) along the coast of Costa Rica. As is quite typical of the parrot family, they are large and they are loud! You almost always see them flying and hanging out in pairs, and they know how to communicate very well with each other. They will let each other know when it’s time to fly off to another spot with a very loud screech. This was such a spectacular sight on a bright sunny beach day – life doesn’t get any better than this. It makes me sad to think about how many of these birds live in isolation, in cages, unable to be free or have a partner to chat with. As glorious as they are to look at, nothing is more glorious than spotting them flying freely through the sky as nature intended it.
To my absolute delight, the moment I arrived on the small island of South Water Caye in Belize, I spotted an osprey nest. I had previously stalked out osprey nests (each with a baby inside) in Yellowstone National Park hoping to get a glimpse of a parent returning, but having no luck at all. This time, the ospreys and I were stranded on an island together and I was determined to get my photograph… and I got several! These large beautiful birds mate for life, and I got to watch a gorgeous couple of ospreys ‘baby making’ on several occasions. I don’t think it would be very pleasant at all having your male partner dive onto your back with huge sharp talons, I hope the feathers provide some cushioning. Ospreys live near water, either a river or the ocean where it can hunt for fish, so you may get to see some dive bombing. They inhabit all continents on earth except Antarctica, which means they are in Australia too!
I did not see these Canadian geese in Canada but in Yellowstone National Park. It seems the name is misleading as I have seen a lot of these geese in the US! They even nest in Central Park in Manhattan, and in the Spring you will see chicken-sized, fluffy babies following their parents around. These two posed so perfectly that they deserved to have their photo taken.
For other posts from Yellowstone National Park, please click here. This post is dedicated to my Canadian friends.