Readers’ wildlife photographs

Anne-Marie Cournoyer, who lives right outside Montreal, has been feeding birds and squirrels, but this has attracted the unwelcome attention of a predator, a Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii).  But she got some terrific photos:

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The chest feathers are very beautiful:

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One would think that Iowa would be the last place in the U.S. to see pelicans, but reader Randy Schenck has them nearby, apparently resting on their migration. This first photo is from the day before yesterday:

Another large group of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) came in yesterday for a visit.  This morning it looks like the Spanish Armada parked outside.  The first photo is to show where they are on the lake compared to my location and you can see the hand rail on the balcony.  I would estimate this group to be well over one hundred.

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Here’s their range from the Cornell bird site; as you see, they do breed in parts of the Midwest, including Iowa, but all overwinter in the South, including Mexico and Central America:

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And Randy’s addendum from yesterday:

The one hundred or more Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) still resting today and having no problems with the off and on rain all day. They cover the lake and move around all day just taking it easy.

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18 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Beauties.

  2. Christopher
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I have always thought that attracting Cooper’s Hawks to the feeder was a bonus. Yes, they pick off a few songbirds here and there, mostly the non-native sparrows in my case, and provide a window into bird behavior. I have a brush pile about 25 feet away from the feeders, and when the hawk makes its appearance, the sparrows retreat inside the brush. The hawk will then sit on the nearby fence, or in a dogwood tree nearby, occasionally making dives into the pile. It’s quite fascinating really. I just wish I could get photos like Anne-Marie’s!

    • Anne-Marie Cournoyer
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Thanks!
      We witness the same kind of behavior, having a bush and a fence in the area of the bird feeder. Fascinating!

    • John Conoboy
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Indeed those are great pictures Anne-Marie. We have a Cooper’s Hawk (at least I am pretty sure it is) that visits our yard and hangs out on top of the bird feeder but it never stays around long enough for me to grab a camera. He/she has been in fights with roadrunners in the yard and so far the roadrunners are winning, but I guess if they can best coyotes, the can do the same for hawks. I am told, however, that it is very difficult to tell the difference between a Cooper’s Hawk and a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus). I am basing my id primarily on size.

      • AnneMarie Cournoyer
        Posted October 11, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        Thank you John!

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Great pictures. Love the delicate breast feathers on the Cooper’s hawk.

  4. John Dentinger
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    In the last two years, I have seen hawks take rock doves & mourning doves near my feeder, but even though I have been able to watch them for long stretches, I have never been able to say for certainty whether Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned. This is a far more humbling experience than I am happy with. Or that with which I am happy. Sigh.

  5. rickflick
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    We saw white pelicans doing the same migratory resting in a lake in Idaho a couple of weeks ago. I was surprised to see them there, but the Cornell map makes things clear.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Are pelicans obligatory salt-water feeders? If so, seeing them in Iowa would be a surprise, if it were far enough from a coast.
      But if they’re happy to eat fresh-water fish (and the occasional pigeon), then is Iowa such a surprise?

      • rickflick
        Posted October 11, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Agree. It would be interesting to have a close look at what they are feeding on during these stops. Perhaps sunfish or perch and trout. I’d guess the lakes in the middle states should be much more turbid and full of algae in late summer – especially in agricultural settings. Visibility is poor, unlike the coastal waters where prey would be visible deep under the surface.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          I’d guess the lakes in the middle states should be much more turbid and full of algae in late summer – especially in agricultural settings.

          Because of temperature? With a side serving of fertiliser run-off.

          Visibility is poor, unlike the coastal waters where prey would be visible deep under the surface.

          Not around our coasts! 2-4m visibility isn’t considered bad.
          My first time diving and snorkelling in (sub-) tropical waters was a revelation, with 10m+ visibility that I normally only associated with high drought and deep-frozen winter, allowing the sediment to settle out.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

            I am pretty sure they are eating a lot of Shad as are the Cormorant. They could be eating other fish from carp to bass.

            The trick to not loosing this lake to algae and everything that would grow and ruin it was to direct all the water into the lake from a ditch or creek instead of bypassing. The ability to get all this water out also had to be considered. So the flow through helps to keep the thing churned up most of the time. This process kills all the growth and keeps it clear of algae and all growth. No chemicals of any kind added. A lake such as this no longer has the nice clear look that it once had but it is still a lake. So shutting off sunlight from hitting the bottom is the key.

            • rickflick
              Posted October 11, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

              It’s a relief to know the lake is being managed well.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted October 11, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

              Hmmm. Phosphate content in the local water supply? Or have soluble phosphates been banned in your catchment?

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted October 11, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

                Sorry, I have been busy all day and not able to get back on this. I would suspect phosphate content in this lake is not good. Probably bad everywhere in Iowa with all the farming and fertilizers. Runoff via the streams and rivers is very bad. I would guess this is why, back in the early 70s I think, this lake started growing full of all the bad stuff. I thought it was done for. But redirecting all the water through the lake absolutely killed all the growth. As I mentioned before, you just have to make sure the water can get out as fast as it comes in with big rains. I will likely be leaving this area soon so the place will be under new management.

                I believe Des Moines is suing three counties in Iowa for the terrible high cost of treating the drinking water for the city. It is a big problem here because the farming has a lot of political power and they don’t want to clean it up.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:55 am | Permalink

                I would guess this is why, back in the early 70s I think, this lake started growing full of all the bad stuff.

                That sound like a classic example of “eutrophication” (spelling within a country mile) – removal of the “limiting nutrient” as a growth constraint leads to a major change in the composition of the ecology.
                Farming, like all other polluting industries, wants to externalise it’s costs as much as possible. It’s inherent in capitalism.

  6. Ted Lawry
    Posted October 11, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    The 5 pelicans appear to be sleeping, but not with their head under a wing. Is this surprising?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 11, 2016 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Don’t know much about the behavior but they seem to sleep in different positions. They go after fish in groups often but they also fish independently.


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