Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 05/01/2015

Photo taken on April 20, 2015

1/1250 f/4.0 108.0 mm ISO 100

Panasonic DMC-FZ200

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back view
dried grass
Mountain Bluebird
Sialia currucoides
nest building
NW of Calgary
on top of nesting box

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The art of building a nest

The art of building a nest
Not quite the best pose, but I just managed to get a quick shot or two of this female Mountain Bluebird before she went inside her nesting box to add more dried grass to her nest. In many ways, the back view is more interesting with its touches of blue than the plain, grayish front colours. I was just thankful to be able to post a Bluebird photo that was taken this spring, instead of last, from my archives. Feels so good to see them back here again.

On the morning of 20 April 2015, I got up early to go on a birding walk with friends. I checked the weather forecast for this week and when I saw that rain was expected for four days in a row, starting tomorrow, I changed my mind and went for a long drive NW and SW of the city for the day instead. Left home around 8:45 am and got back about 6:45, driving about 330 km. The day before, I had been out on a day trip to Pine Coulee Reservoir with birding friends, but only got half a dozen very distant, blurry shots of birds.

I just couldn't wait any longer to go and see if I could find one of the Great Gray Owls that a few people had been seeing recently, NW of the city. No luck at all, though I did see a Moose and this pair of Bluebirds, all of which helped lessen the disappointment of not finding an owl. The Moose had been feeding near the edge of the road when I spotted it. A minute or two later, it crossed the road and began feeding there. Suddenly, it took off across that road, leaping over a barbed-wire fence to the safety of the forest. Took me by surprise until I noticed a couple of cows (bulls) that had walked up behind the Moose and spooked it! I almost watched disaster, as the Moose got its leg briefly tangled in the barbed-wire as it leapt and almost stumbled.

The only other thing that I found to photograph were cows, so on my way home, I took the long way and came back via backroads SW of the city. Drove a couple of roads that were new to me and was glad to find a wooden structure that I had seen on someone's Facebook page. The photographer had very kindly told me where to look, though I wasn't quite sure which road it was on until I was there. I also called in briefly at Brown-Lowery Provincial Park, hoping that I might just be lucky enough to see one particular bird species that I hadn't seen before - out of luck, again. The paths in the park were so muddy.

In Bluebirds, the blue colour is produced by the structure of the feather - there is no blue pigment. "Tiny air pockets in the barbs of feathers can scatter incoming light, resulting in a specific, non-iridescent color. Blue colors in feathers are almost always produced in this manner. Examples include the blue feathers of Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings, Blue Jay's and Steller's Jays."


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