Reader’s wildlife photos

How about a little Stephen Barnard photography (from Idaho) this rainy Saturday? His captions are indented.

Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus). I love the common name of this  bird. Usually, the second word in a hyphenated name isn’t capitalized, like Red-tailed Hawk or Yellow-rumped Warbler. This seems to be an exception. Sometimes it’s spelled without the hyphen. I worry about these things.🙂


I love this photo, and I bet Matthew does, too:

Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) are raising a second brood under the eve of my front porch. Some Debbie-downer on Facebook told me they were doomed because second broods inevitably fall prey to parasites. They’re doing well and about ready to fledge, if they haven’t already. What I  firmly believe is the first brood are swooping in and out around the  nest, seemingly to encourage their siblings to fledge.


These are both flies, I think, of two different species. They’re pollinating Shasta Daisies. The first one appears to be a bee mimetic. I’ve never noticed either before and have no clue about the IDs. [Readers?]



And finally, some hummingbirds. I’ve lost the captions and IDs but have written Stephen for the information. In the meantime, amuse yourself identifying them, and be sure to see the pooper in the last photo:






  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Believe that is a humming bird taking a leak. Something you would never see without the picture.

  2. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    The hummingbirds are Rufous (Selasphorus rufus).

  3. J Cook
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    There are four hummer feeders in my back yard and mostly every time they fly off after having a drink they’ll squirt, sometimes leaving tiny traces on the plants below. Catching it with a camera is quite a trick.

  4. Christopher
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    yesterday we get polar bear porn, today, hummingbirds using the toilet. I’m getting concerned about where this site is heading….

    It’s great to see the western version of a bird I only positively ID’d myself on May 25 of this year. My parents have retired to the Lake of the Ozarks and I’ve been thrilled to ID new birds there, but the Eastern Pewee (Contopus virens) and the Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) look like each other, were living and feeding near each other at the top of the hill along the roadside but with help of an app, a field guide, and song recordings I finally figured it out (until the nest time I encounter them both). Then, as a bonus, the Phoebe nested in the rafters on the boat dock and got a pic of the nest (sadly, I didn’t get to see the eggs hatch).

    Beautiful pictures all!
    (even the risqué one!)

  5. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I’ve been told that a group of pewees is collectively known as a “dribble” or a “squirt”.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 30, 2016 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      Srsly? That’s awful for such sweet birds!

      Unbelievable hummer captures, Stephen!

      It is possible to lose Barn Swallow nestlings to parasites, but certainly not, er, certain. It’s happened in my barn and I felt terrible; the key seems to be to remove the old nests each season and let them build a new one in the spring. I combed through one nest I removed and found it teeming with a variety of arthropodian pests; and also woven through with about 8′ of monofilament line. This was after the nest had experienced the full brunt of a cold Michigan winter, so the pests do overwinter in some form.

      And if you’ve had nests for years with no such problems, well, so had I. Maybe all it takes is a phoretic swallow one season and it snowballs from there.

      Very cool about the double broods!

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I am going to go on a bit, b/c I miss m’ bugs.
    The first fly is in the family Tachinidae, and these parasitize other insects like caterpillars. Characters that narrow down to this family are the short antennae and the wing vein pattern. Other fly families have similar versions of these traits, but that narrows it down. The specific field character for Tachinids is their distinctive bristlyness. I could not id the species exactly from Bugguide, but I think its in the tribe Tachininae.
    The 2nd fly is in the family Syrphidae (aka flower flies, sweat bees, etc.). Syrphid larvae turn up in all sorts of situations, from being predators to scavengers, terrestrial, or aquatic. Note the short antennae, and the wing veins would be pretty similar to the Tachinid above. Most species are bee and wasp mimics, which you can see, and almost all have a strange, spurious vein the runs down the middle of the wing. I think the species is Syritta flaviventris. I like the big femurs on this one, but I have no idea what they are for.

    • Christopher
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Excellent info. I did not know about Tachinidae being parasites, but then I didn’t know much about them at all. Thanks.

    • RA
      Posted August 27, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      The syrphid is S. pipiens because of the yellow antennae (black in flaviventris) and reduced yellow markings on the abdomen (bigger in flaviventris). The tachinid belongs to the genus Peleteria, a parasitoid of Lepidoptera larvae.🙂

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted August 27, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        👍 !!

        • Diane G.
          Posted August 30, 2016 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

          Thanks to both of you!

          Mark, could the enlarged femurs be a further attempt at bee imitation, suggesting pollen loads?

  7. Greg Mils
    Posted August 27, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Awesome photos. The swallow feeding on the fly… The depth of field in these bee macros… Every feather in the Rufous… Just amazing. This Barnard guy is a genius!

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      + 1 🙂

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted August 30, 2016 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

      I’m not a genius, but I have excellent gear, I live in a place that’s pretty good for wildlife photography, and I take a LOT of photos.🙂

      This is a golden age of amateur wildlife photography, with widely available high quality equipment available all over the world — gear that far exceed the capability of the film days. I’m stunned by the quality of what I’m seeing, from all four corners.

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