Readers’ wildlife photographs

Reader Karen Bartelt sent us some nice photos from Big Bend National Park in Texas. The notes are hers:

The blue punk rocker is a phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens – one of the silky flycatchers.  This was the bird that made the trip.  It’s considered uncommon in the park.  It was dusk, and the light was fading fast, but he held nice and still.
The next one has to be a black phoebe, Sayornis nigricans.  However, most black phoebes have a lot more white below the “waist”.  I would love other suggestions; I’ve been through the Big Bend bird list.
The next two are black-throated sparrows, Amphispiza bilineata:
Mexican jay, Aphelocoma wollweberi:
Greater roadrunner, Geococcyx californianus.  We saw a lot of them, but this one walked up to me as I was resting in the shade.  Not more than two feet away:
Lastly, not a bird, but a javelina, or collared peccary, Pecari tajacu:


  1. Posted June 8, 2016 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Nice photos, what equipment did you use?

    • Karen Bartelt
      Posted June 8, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      A Lumix. I have no desire to learn to shoot a SLR, so this is a compromise.

  2. Chris G
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    What a stunning colour the blue punk rocker is, especially with the darker mask across the eyes – and posing like he knows it, such confidence!
    Chris G

  3. Posted June 8, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Lovely shots, in particular the Black-throated Sparrow on thorny branch. The second photo is a Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps).

    • Karen Bartelt
      Posted June 8, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      So there is a melanic form of that bird?

      • John Harshman
        Posted June 8, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        I think it’s just the light, and the bird isn’t really that dark. You can see the edge of the rufous crown if you look closely.

        Similarly, Phainopeplas aren’t really blue in most light; they’re black.

  4. LAG
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Great photos, thanks.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Those are very interesting pictures. There might be a bit of polymorphism in black phoebes, perhaps.

    Roadrunners! To have one look you over is to be watched by a dinosaur.

  6. Posted June 8, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Beautiful bird photos……….

  7. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted June 8, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    “Big Bend National Park” – that name rings a bell. Is that the place with the dinosaur footprints that drives the Creationists to spittle-dribbling stupidities?
    No, that’s Paluxy River … Big bend, Big Bend … there’s definitely a geological bell ringing. Mesozoic rocks … some dinosaurs reported.
    Ah, got it. “The first Quetzalcoatlus fossils were discovered in Texas, United States, from the Maastrichtian Javelina Formation at Big Bend National Park (dated to around 68 million years ago[7]) in 1971” (
    Biggest (known, to date) of the pterosaurs. Obviously not dinosaurs, but contemporaries.

  8. Pete
    Posted June 9, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the great photos. I believe the second photo is a canyon towhee. It lacks the pale malar and dark throat stripes of the rufous-crowned sparrow.

    Hope you enjoyed Big Bend.

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