Readers’ wildlife photos

Send those photos in, folks, as my tank is only about 30% full.  Today we have a mélange of photos from several readers. First, some some lovely fall photos from James Blilie:

What I think are all sugar maples (Acer saccharum), all taken in Shawano County, Wisconsin, October 2016.  The sugar maple is the state tree of Wisconsin.




And one animal:  A flight of Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) flying over Shawano County, Wisconsin, October 2016.


Dick Kleinknecht sent three photos, with the last requiring a raptor ID.

While looking for something else, I came upon a photo I took a couple of years ago.  Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) were eradicated from Washington state and have been reintroduced during the past decade or so.  They seem to be making a successful comeback.  I was driving along the eastern shore of the Columbia River between Wenatchee and Lake Chelan when I saw this fellow standing on a small bluff just watching the automobile traffic.  I stopped and added his picture to my collection.  Handsome critter, eh?


The mama downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) is on the right and she is feeding her recently fledged offspring, on the left.  Several times last summer the fledgling would fly to the suet cage, land on it, and wait for his mom to come feed him.  It took him a couple of weeks or more to figure out that he could feed himself. 

I heard a large crash on my back patio.  When I went to investigate, I saw a large entangled mass of feathers unsteadily flying away.  It didn’t go too far before landing.  It seems one large bird attacked another not-quite-so-large bird and was flying away with its prize.  They settled in for a bit, so I went for my camera.  They were barely in range for my zoom lens, but this is the best I could do.

It appears that the loser is/was a flicker.  We have many of them all the time, so that is not strange.  I’m not sure what species the winner belongs to.  The best I’ve come up with is a sharp-shinned hawk.  Any idea?

The last is from Stephen Barnard, who has beat me to New Zealand. I believe he’s fishing and doing some sightseeing there, and this photo probably combines both activities.

Milford Sound, New Zealand. Not a great photo, but it shows that I’m here! There must have been some enormous glaciers carving these fjords.  The scenery is spectacular but the weather is difficult. Tomorrow I going on a two-day boat trip to Doubtful Sound.

By the way, I’m pretty sure I saw a Weka (Gallirallus australis) in the RV park. I thought these ground-nesting birds, endemic to New Zealand, had been extirpated by introduced predators except in a few protected places.


JAC: A weka (Gallirallus australis) is an flightless rail endemic to New Zealand and, like many flightless birds, it’s threatened. Here’s a picture I got from the Internet:



  1. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 4, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Beautiful pictures, and I really like the Fall scenery. No idea about the hawk ID.

  2. Posted February 4, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    There are many reports of accipters (especially Cooper’s Hawks) learning to flush other birds into windows. They then eat the stunned birds.

  3. Derek Freyberg
    Posted February 4, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Stephen’s weka sighting might be real – Fiordland is one of the places where there are still weka in the wild; though he’s right about the wild populations being very limited. I grew up outside Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands as a young child, with native “bush” nearby, and there were still wild kiwi and weka to be seen if you were lucky (kiwi mostly heard, since they’re nocturnal); but I doubt they’re still around.

    • Posted February 4, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Derek, I have emailed a few photos of a weka to Jerry, and also placed a link here –

      Notice that the weka is obviously looking in through the window in some shots. Weka a fairly common is Tasman (I live with 5 minutes of Richmond Mall). I have also spotted them on a bush track going into the hills (but still within a residential area).

      • Posted February 4, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        There is at least one family of wekas on our land (Mum, Dad & a few chicks). One of them helps me mow the lawn, by following me around and eating any grubs that I’ve disturbed.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted February 4, 2017 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      I photographed wekas two years ago, but it was in a fenced enclosure on what used to be Shania Twains’s property in Otago.

      • Posted February 5, 2017 at 12:31 am | Permalink

        We have lived in Tasman for nearly five years, and had wekas the whole time. I’ve heard comments that suggest that they have been making a comeback recently.
        We also have tuis and Californian quails on our land. We are on a reasonably steep hill, and a lot of our property is difficult to access, so it may be acting a a nature sanctuary.
        The wekas help keep the land free from rabbits: they can be quite aggressive if their territory is threatened.

  4. Cindy
    Posted February 5, 2017 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    absolutely gorgeous

    Autumn is my favourite season

    A sea of yellow!

  5. Paul Matthews
    Posted February 5, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Distinguishing Sharp-shinned Hawk from Cooper’s Hawk can be very tricky. Both are accipiters, i.e., bird hawks. A feature of accipiters is that the male is much smaller than the female. I can’t be 100% sure but I believe the bird in the photo is a male Cooper’s Hawk. If it is indeed a male bird I think that would rule out Sharp-shinned, as I can’t imagine a small male sharpie taking prey as large as a flicker.

    Regarding the woodpeckers, are you sure they’re downies? The adult looks like a hairy to me, but the position of the head makes it hard to see the length of the bill, the best mark to distinguish these very similar species. Here in the east (Ottawa, Canada), downies always have dark spots on their white outer tail feathers, which hairies lack. The adult woodpecker in the photo does not have spots on her white outer tail feathers, but I’m not sure whether this is a reliable distinguishing mark in the west.

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