Scissortail Ballet

October 17, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

One look at the impossibly long tail of the scissor-tailed flycatcher might make you wonder if handicaps this bird by its excess. But once you see the owners in flight, you realize the tails have a purpose.

They act as rudders of sorts, allowing the birds to dart after flying insects with finesse.

The males sport the longer tails, and if they had the capability, they’d probably take great pride in their amazing accouterments.

This is the Oklahoma state bird, and in summer they find plenty of places in the small trees dotting fields and prairies to make their nests.

It seems as if the scissortails revel in their acrobatic ability.

Notice the female’s shorter tail.

These birds were at Fort Sill, which is part of the Wichita Mountains.

In fall they gather by the dozens – or even hundreds – as they discuss their migration flight plans.

I haven’t seen a gathering that large, but just seeing one in an aerial ballet is enough majesty for me.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

 

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Nighthawks and Pauraques

May 29, 2017 at 8:12 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Birds - Texas, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Southwest Birds, Wildlife) (, )

Common nighthawk

Nighthawks are among the birds of my childhood. Their “buick buick” calls at dusk, the quick wingbeats followed by a glide, remind me of warm Southern nights. I remember being outside when it was nearly dark, and a nighthawk flew past my head.

I took off after it in my bare feet. (My feet were perpetually black in summer from running on pavement).

It landed in the fields behind our house, and to my surprise I was able to pick it up. I carried it around awhile, proud of my trophy. I figured it was a juvenile that didn’t know how to fly very well yet.

Of course, I released it after a few minutes.

I’ve seen male nighthawks courting their ladies. The females were on a post or the ground and the male would make a steep dive, pulling up with a roar of wind through his wingtips. It was an amazing sound.

Here’s a female I saw last month in Osage County, Oklahoma just as the sun had set. The male was flying nearby and you can hear the “roar” as he dives near her off-camera.

The common nighthawk is found all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The lesser nighthawk is found in very southern parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of a lesser nighthawk.

 

I’ve only seen lesser nighthawks at Big Bend National Park in Texas. They tended to run right into my car headlights after insects, and it broke my heart when I hit one.

Notice how big the eyes are. Nighthawks need to see in the dark. The mouths are huge, too, to scoop flying bugs into their maw.

I saw about two dozen common nighthawks on a trip through farmland between Lawton and Frederick, Oklahoma recently. I’ve never seen so many before, many sitting on fence posts or “bob wahr.” One was even high on a phone line.

I also saw relatives of theirs, the common pauraque, in far South Texas several years ago.  We were told exactly where they were resting amid leaves on the ground at Estero Llano Grande State Park. But it still took a minute to see them even though they were literally out in the open. That’s how good the camouflage was.

Common Pauraque

See what I mean?

Common pauraque

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website: Eastern common nighthawks are browner than those from the northern Great Plains, which are silvery gray overall.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Join my Facebook Page

Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

 

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Hackberry Flat in Spring

April 25, 2017 at 1:36 pm (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Wildlife) (, )

American Badger

I figured I’d start with the badger since it’s the most unusual animal of the day. It’s technically not in the boundaries of Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in Southwest Oklahoma, but pretty close. Read the rest of this entry »

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Birds at my feeder

March 14, 2017 at 8:50 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma)

Male house finch

My best photographs of birds at my backyard feeder come on overcast days, because there are too many window reflections on a sunny day. Read the rest of this entry »

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Owls ‘n Hawks

March 6, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography) (, , )

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owl

I understand the short-eared owls at Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in Southwest Oklahoma will be leaving soon for their breeding grounds up north. This was my second time seeing them last Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kestrel (Sparrow Hawk)

February 11, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma) (, , )

American kestrel male

American kestrel male

I spent about an hour last month photographing a single male American kestrel, also known as a sparrow hawk. When he first arrived at the blind at Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in southwest Oklahoma, he was wet. Read the rest of this entry »

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Harriers and a Merlin

February 10, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography) (, , )

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

Harriers, also known as marsh hawks, are a very common sight here in southwestern Oklahoma in winter. Although the Cornell Lab of Ornithology map shows they occur year-round in the northwestern parts of our state, I did not see any last summer. They were replaced by the very numerous Mississippi kites. Read the rest of this entry »

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American Bittern and Some Other Birds

February 9, 2017 at 5:00 am (Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography) (, )

American bittern

American bittern

Sometimes you have to look hard to find a bird that blends in so well with its surroundings as does the American bittern.

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I was with another birder on Jan. 2 when a photographer drove up and told us where to find a bittern at Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in southwestern Oklahoma. Read the rest of this entry »

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Short-eared Owls

February 8, 2017 at 8:08 am (Birds - Oklahoma, Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography) (, , )

Short-eared owl

Short-eared owl

I didn’t get a chance to post my photographs from my January  2 visit to Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in southwest Oklahoma. I flew to Seattle two days later, and did some of the photo editing while there.

short-eared-owl-hackberry-flats-ok-8-copy-2

The short-eared owl, which is a winter bird in Oklahoma, is a life bird for me (number 461) and I would have missed them if another birder had not told me there was about a dozen of them hunkered down in the tall grass by the visitor center. Read the rest of this entry »

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Caddo Maples

November 20, 2016 at 12:03 pm (Autumn, Bird photography, Birds - Oklahoma, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Oklahoma, Photography, Wichita Mountains NWR, Wildlife)

Caddo Maples, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Okla.

Caddo Maples, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Okla.

Walking through a forested canyon in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Okla., I felt like I was back in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park in Texas. Big Bend was the first park I worked at when the Great Recession ended my art business, and it changed my life. Read the rest of this entry »

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