Friday, May 30, 2008

Black Snake Visits Habitat - Then Comes in House

This black snake (aka, black rat snake) showed up a few days ago. My wife noticed him enjoying the warm of the direct sun, as well as the sunlight reflected off of the house siding.
When I saw him, I began considering the question where was he coming from before sunning himself.
The obvious, but very concerning origin, was inside the house.
Sure enough, as I approached him to take these photos, he began seeking his entrance.
As you can see from these photos, he slipped right in - I believe between the siding and the underlying plywood.
The snake stayed 'in the house' for about 30 minutes, then showed himself again. When he saw me, he slithered with considerable speed into the tall grass and brush.
To maintain domestic tranquility, when he returned the next day, I used the sharp blade of a shovel to ensure the this snake never is seen again.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Raccoon Visits Colvin Run Habitat

Over the last ten days, this raccoon has visited the Colvin Run Habitat on three occasions. On two of these occasions, I was able to capture these photos.
On all three occasions, he came at about 8 PM and ate sunflower seeds that have fallen from the bird feeder.
This raccoon appearred healthy and was not threated by my close approach and clicking camera. During his first visit, I took photos out of an opened back porch door. During his second visit, I began by opening the door and easing out onto the porch steps. He didnot react to sounds, but rather to motion that he sees. He looked directly at me for a quick moment, then turned his back to me and continued to eat. During this second visit, I crept barefoot down the steps and along the walkway. He twice raised his head, looked at me, then continued feasting on seed. Finally, I got within 15 feet of the raccoon, where is posed again for photos, then jogged off into the bush. From that close position, I captured the first, third, and last photos.
Please make sure that you give raccoons or any wild animals plenty of space, do not threaten the young (even though you may not see them), and do not box them into any corner.

The last raccoon visit occurred 11 months ago.

In the next few posts - the new fawn arrives, bluebird chicks leave the nest, and black snake decides to enter the house.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Towhee Pays Spring Visit to Habitat

The Eastern Towhee paid a somewhat unusual spring vii st to the Colvin Run Habitat the other day.
The second photo shows the towhee's backside, as well as a finch leaving the feeder in flight.
The towhee arrived the last week of April - also the last week of this spring's dogwood blooms.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Gray Catbird Narrowly Escapes Coopers Hawk

The Gray Catbird is not often observed in the Colvin Run Habitat. This catbird arrived the other morning and perched in the dogwood tree.
Like most other birds, from the dogwood the catbird flew to the feeder pole.
Within just a few seconds, the catbird dove back into the dogwood to narrowly escape an attack from a Coopers hawk that had suddenly appeared. Please accept my apologies for enjoy the moment and not getting a photo of the hawk.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Rose Breasted Grosbeak Visits Habitat for First Time

Recently, I observed for the first time a rose-breasted grosbeak in the Colvin Run Habitat. The Habitat lies on the very southern border of the grosbeak's summer range.
During mating season, the male rose-breasted grosbeak takes on the rose colored patch on his chest. This male will spend 1/3 of the daytime incubating the eggs in the nest.
As you can see from the second photo, this grosbeak is about the size and from the same family as the cardinal.
I could not resist posting the last two photo showing a sparrow and cardinal, respectively, in flight and landing on the bird feeder.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Canadian Goose Takes a Swim

Again noticing that someone was referred to the Colvin Run Habitat blog by a Google search of 'goose', I thought that I would post a few more photos of geese.
Throughout ponds and lakes in Northern Virginia, wild Canadian geese are nearly as plentiful as deer are in the Habitat.
Geese are observed flying in their classic V-formation over the Habitat several times a week, but they never land.
Most time, these geese allow you to get rather close. When you get too close, they simply walk into the water. Or, if they are having a bad day, they will chase you away.
Regardless, they provide a easy target for novice wildlife photographers.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Texas Mockingbird

I noticed that in a recent Google search someone was looking for photos of the Northern Mockingbird. So here are a few mockingbird photos taken on my March visit to Frisco, Texas.
Of course, we all know that the mockingbird is the state bird of the great state of Texas. So this posting is sent out to all my friends in Texas - kindergarten students at Ethridge Elementary School, the Library Services Staff in the Lewisville School District, and my fellow blogger who is now watching birds in Austin.
Interested in mockingbird chicks? See these photos from last year.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bluebird Chicks Hatch

So here they are the hatched bluebird chicks. Two chicks sleeping head-to-head in the nest. One egg did not yeild a chick.
Given their current size, I am estimating another 7 to 9 days before they leave the nest.
Feathers have considerable development to complete. Currently the feathers are basically numbs to be filled out.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hummingbirds, Grosbeak, and Red-tailed Fox

In a great seven day period, the Colvin Run Habitat observed a new bird and welcomed back two long time visitors.

First, the hummingbirds returned last Sunday at the break of dawn (no new photos yet). Second, on Friday morning, a never before seen rose-breasted grosbeak joined the cardinals at the bird feeder (photos to follow in a later post). Third, this morning (Saturday), a red-tailed fox wondered through the Habitat. My wife came yelling into the house, I grabbed the camera, and by sheer luck caught 4 poor quality photos. One of the photos is posted above. Why is it that some of our most interesting wildlife comes when the sky is overcast and stays in the shade?

Regardless, exciting news that we have another fox in residence, hopefully.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ovenbird Seen for the First Time

Every once in a while I come across a bird that I have never seen (in your life) or that has never visited the Colvin Run Habitat. This week, I observed a sparrow-size, slightly olive colored bird with a distinctive orange and black striping on the top of the head. A quick look at the field guide indicated that the observed bird was an ovenbird, a thrush-like warbler that lives on the ground of mature forests eating insects. This bird gets its name from its nest which has a dome and side entrance - the nest looks like a Dutch oven.

Unfortunately, the ovenbird that I observed was dead, which is the reason that I have the photos lower in this posting. If you would rather not see photos of a dead ovenbird - read no further. This ovenbird was found on the ground, close to the porch. I assume that the ovenbird flew into the windows and did not survive the crash. Every once in a while, a cardinal will leave his body print on a window. Far less frequently, a downy woodpecker will knock himself out, but always recover.

Note the overall olive color, pink legs, and spotted breast.
The orange and black striping on the head is truly unique.