Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wings and more wings

The past two days have been beautiful with record warmth for March. Rains have melted most of the snow and new growth is appearing everywhere. I was doing community visits in the downtown area today and had half an hour to stop at this lovely park in the city centre. Many mallards and geese make this pond their home and soon there will be ducklings and gosslings around. This savvy Cooper's Hawk was also setting up a home base in the top of a spruce tree, knowing a good food supply is very available.
I watched as he (or she) made multiple trips with sticks to the nest in the tree top.

Lynne, at Hasty Brook posted a picture of a Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterfly here yesterday. This is a different but unfamiliar butterfly I found today. There was one at the park and then I saw four more on the hospital grounds later in the day. Please feel free to help me identify it.
(Thanks Lynne and Laura. It is a Mourning Cloak. This link is interesting.)

I returned to the hospital on a road near the river and noticed a pair of birds soaring in the air above a field. I took a number of pictures with maximum digital zoom as I have no binoculars. This bird has a white head and I would identify it as an Osprey or an immature Bald Eagle. I know the wing tip angle is the clue in identification. I met a birder who has seen Bald Eagles recently in this area, and I was hoping this is what I saw today too. I am posting the full sized picture on Flickr for any expert who can help identify this bird in flight.

My mother and father arrived here tonight after driving from Cincinnati today. They have driven all the way up from Tepic, Mexico this month. Mom was telling me she has identified close to 200 birds on their property outside the city this year. They are in the mountains, close to the ocean and in a migratory path.
I will be happy if I identify fifty birds this season with help from my handy digital camera.


  1. Anonymous1:22 am GMT-4

    When I saw the picture of the butterfly I honestly thought: "Why did someone leave a raw steak on the ground?" :o)

  2. Your butterfly is a Mourning Cloak! Isn't that a cool name?
    You need to get some binoculars!! Really!!

  3. I do not know if this will be any help, since you have the mystery bird coined as an eagle already but it does show the body shape differences between the Osprey and the eagle. (I scanned this from a book once I think.)

    You would love Lake Coeur d'Alene, near Spokane. It has the largest nesting population of Osprey west of the Mississippi.

  4. Hey, I thought it looked like a raw steak, too! Good bird photos, Ruth. It must be nice to have your parents with you. Enjoy!

  5. Glad your parents arrived safely. Enjoy their time with you!

  6. That park is really picturesque.-I'm trying to keep tabs on butterflies a little bit-nice photos.-That bird looks like a Turkey Vulture to me but I'm afraid I'm no expert.

  7. Lots of excellent winged finds, Ruth!

    Love the Mourning Cloak - haven't found one hear yet. The Cooper's is so cool - great find!

    I'm thinking Turkey Vulture too.

  8. Alex- The raw steak looks like it is going off!

    Lynne- Thanks for the ID. I will look for you butterfly book, but I was hoping you would be kind enough to tell me what this one was. It is a neat name. I know I need binoculars. I have looked, but have been overwhelmed by the selection (and prices)

    Jaspenelle- Your page is interesting and it supports the view of the two people who say I saw a turkey vulture. I was hoping for an eagle, but could not make a positive ID. I remember your pictures of Lake Coeur d'Alene. It was a gorgeous spot.

    Mary- I took my mom to your blog to see REALLY good bird pictures.

    KGMom- I was relieved that they arrived safely too. They will have a long return trip next month too.

    Larry- Three votes for turkey vulture. I was hoping for an eagle, but I never realized how lovely the vulture is in flight.

    Laura- I think you are right too. I only considered an eagle or osprey at first. I never even looked at the vulture page in my book. I have never noticed a Mourning Cloak before. I couldn't find any today.

  9. I am still waiting to see my first mourning cloak of the year! Sometimes they will not let you get close, so great work in getting that photo!

  10. Mon@rch- Thanks for commenting. This butterfly was quite still on the rock seeming to enjoy the warmth of the sun. The others I saw were more skittish.

  11. Lovely pictures. Yes, indeed - a mourning cloak - harbinger of Spring.


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