Harlan’s Hawk…

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I believe this is a Harlan’s Hawk, due to its coloration. Some experts consider this to be a sub-species of the Red-tailed Hawk, others think it is a separate species. First described by John James Audubon in 1829. He referred to it as Falco Harlani (after R. Harlan, a physician and naturalist).

Feeding the geese…

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Crested Duck (Lophonetta specularioides)…

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The crest on Crested Ducks arose from a genetic mutation specifically bred into the bird by duck breeders. The mutation is  a deformed spot on the skull which gives rise to the topnotch. It seems a quarter of all Crested Ducks die when they hatch because the crest is not properly formed and leaves the duckling’s brain fatally exposed. They are cute though.

Chickenhawk…

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I posted about the Red-tailed hawk a while back. This one likes to take up watch on this sign post not 10 feet from a busy highway. It will stay there for long periods of time with traffic whizzing by, but if you stop within 50 feet it will take off. I had to park in a lot across the street and shoot between the passing trucks to  have it sit still long enough. These hawks are legally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Ugly Duckling…

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The Black Swan (Cygnus astratus) is native to the southern parts of Australia, so finding this lone bird in a small lake populated by about 150 ducks and geese means it was placed here by someone. I’m wondering if it has an identity complex, being around all these smaller foul. They need to find a mate for this one to make things right. The red bill and eyes contrasting the black feathers make this an awesome looking bird. These swans may grow to as much as 20 pounds.

Ole Greybeard…

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Poor Bosco. He was really feeling left out of the special Santa gifts this evening. I’m thinking that everyday is Christmas for this boy though.

Northern Flicker…

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Such an attractive Woodpecker.

White-Tailed beauties…

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Every morning just after sun-up, about three families of these White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) sprint across my back yard. They have moved to a field behind the trees during the night to forage on the grass and leaves. Come daylight, they come back across the yard, cross the road and through a large church parking lot into a small wooded area where they spend the day. Usually I see them while I’m having the morning coffee and doing newspaper crossword puzzles, so I am not prepared to try to get any photos. Today I stood out in the finger numbing cold for about 45 minutes waiting for them to pose for me. They did not disappoint . I had trouble with lens fogging and image noise (due to high ISO setting), but at least I got a shot. In the last hundred years the White-tailed deer population has rebounded from near extinction to abundance, largely due to aggressive game management and the control of their natural predators (coyotes, mountain lions, etc…). These particular deer, being in a suburban setting, have little to fear from the myriad of hunters around these parts. I may start naming them! I think there are enough to pull a Christmas Sleigh.

Possum on the Half Shell…

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I was excited by todays picture because in my lifetime, I think I have seen a live Armadillo only two or three times. Every other one has been road kill. When I was young, I don’t think there were any around this part of the country. But their population has been slowly expanding northward over the years and you now see them dead on the highway all the time. The name Armadillo is Spanish for “little armored one”. They are unique little critters. I came upon this one early this morning while driving through town and he obliged me with a photo op. I was going to include a recipe here for possum on the half shell, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)…

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The Dark-eyed Juncos are a small sparrow species that show up around here in the winter months. This one is identified as a male due to it’s slate gray coloring. The females are more brownish. I think this one has found a small worm.

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