Birds of Prey
I thought I would use today’s post to celebrate our birds of prey. Like most of you, I have more species and individual images of BoP than I can count. These were chosen because I found them hiding on an external hard drive, in a folder aptly named, BoP. Most have been shown before.
The Rough-legged hawk breeds in the arctic, and most younger birds migrate south for the winter. This species visits us here in Wisconsin and I have spent some of the best days of my life in the company of RLHs.
The Osprey is sometimes called the Fish Hawk. The name is appropriate as they live almost entirely on fish, and most ornithologists consider them to actually be hawks.
The American Kestrel is actually a Falcon. They are pretty birds but they can be skittish. It took me a few years to get any sort of close images of Kestrels, but as is often the case, once that happened, I got close-ups every year there after.
The Swainson’s Hawk is as common in the western U.S. as the Red-tail hawk is everywhere else. I found these birds to be very tolerant of humans.
Speaking of Red-tails. I have thousands of pictures of this species, as do most wildlife photographers. These shots are in no way representative of the variety of images that rest in my files. My life (and photography) would have been far more empty without these birds.
The Short-eared Owl is often out and about in the daytime during the winter season. That makes them a favorite of photographers. On several occasions I spent a winter’s day surrounding by these guys. They roost until they get hungry and then burst on the scene and virtually take over the world.
Of course most of you have seen a variety of images that I have made of Great-horned Owls. Ninety percent of all of my GHO pictures were made at the nesting cavity you see in this picture. I miss those days spent with baby GHOs.
Of course, the symbol of America is the Bald Eagle, There is nothing quite like one of these birds on a cold winter’s blue sky day. The are made for the term “majestic”.
This is an immature Bald Eagle.
Most birders lump scavengers in with birds of prey. I imagine that is because all birds of prey will scavenge, but really Black Vultures like this one ( in Texas) and our more common Turkey Vulture, as far as I know, do not ever kill live prey. Scavengers like this (huge) bird are among the most important in the wild world.
As most of you know, I have been sharing a new feature on Earth Images entitled Memories From The Field. One or two pictures and the story, or better said my memory of the experience behind the image(s). What it meant to me. We all have memories from the field, and I believe we can all relate to the same thoughts. While I have been long known for being the photographer who pushes all other photographers to get out and create images, I will admit that I have many memories from the field (trips, places, etc.) that I that I never memorialized in photos.
In 2007 I was traveling though the near south, especially the state of Missouri. Missouri is my favorite state in this region as it is a genuine southern state, in parts, a western plains state much like Oklahoma or Kansas in some areas, and an upper Midwest state like Wisconsin or Minnesota in other places. There are Cypress swamps in some locations, Appalachian style mountains ( big hills) in others, prairie in other places, and farm country and forest in yet others.
I had been in southeastern Missouri making wildlife/landscape photos in Mingo NWR, when I decided to make the trip to the northwest portion of the state to visit Squaw Creek NWR. This was a great opportunity to tour Missouri, and make whatever wildlife/landscape photos I might find along the way. Somewhere in the mid to upper portion of central Missouri I happened into farm country. It pays to take side roads. My own home state of Wisconsin would be proud of this region. Every 15 or 20 miles I would find another town. Well, if a restaurant, a gas station/general store, and three houses can be called a town. Population 18, or 12, or 8. I had thought that most “real” Americana was gone. One restaurant was in a 120 year old (or so) building. Stools at the counter with plastic seats (1950s) that were cracked and covered with tape. Wooden floors, but not the kind that were put in and polished in an effort to look like a page from the past. They were a real page from the past. Another of the two restaurants I entered had old-fashioned (1930s-1960s) linoleum floors, spotlessly clean but wore out. The smell of patty melts, and home-made beef stew waffled from every corner. It had fountain Coke, with their own cherry sauce added for homemade Cherry Coke. The gas station/general store ( explored two of them too) wasn’t another modern convenience store gas station that was made to look old-fashioned. Yet another 100-year-old+ building. Two gas pumps right in front of the store. They looked like they may have been installed in the 70s. In addition to the usual Hostess products, soda and batteries you would expect anywhere, they sold work gloves, work pants, hunting and fishing supplies. I had hit the nirvana of Americana. I drove past several similar towns.
That trip was eight years ago and I am quite sure that most of what I found, has bound to have been changed. I can see the gas station/fast food/ convenience stores now. I can also see a lot of closed American treasures. I imagine that some day, the modern gas station complexes of the 2000s will also be replaced. I can see today’s children looking back nostalgically remembering the “good old days” when you could find a BP gas station, with 40 pumps, truck parking and a Wendy’s. Whatever happened to the good old days?
So, where are my pictures? I have always been bad at invading people’s world, and then using my camera to document their oddities, no matter how heart warming I may find them. I would have never made a full-time photojournalist.
I may not have the literal pictures to illustrate my experiences and my feelings, but I have my heart and my mind, and the words that emanate from them. I will do the best I can to “paint pictures” with those words, every once in a while, when there are no pictures to share.
For my next post, I will quit blowing the dust off of my own images, and share some current and relevant pictures by some of the best photographers I can find.
Have a great day, Wayne