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Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Thursday July 17, 2014

Updated on July 17, 2014
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird | Source

Field Notes

An Undertone in the Hummingbird's Song

Just because you “hear” it doesn’t mean that you REALLY hear it. Auditory technology has come along way, so that you can hear what this hummingbird song really is all about:

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk | Source

Another Raptor Dies Due to Rat Poison

With great sadness, I must announce the untimely death of Ruby, a former resident of Cambridge, MA. What killed her? Rat poison. Rat poison forces a rat to go outside in search of water, and a raptor is a sitting duck for the silent killer. Please say ‘no’ to rat poison. You could save a raptor’s life. Rodenticides cause a horrible death.

Military Macaw
Military Macaw | Source

Thanks, Mexico, For Your Work on the Military Macaw!

There has been an important victory in Mexico for the Military Macaw, due to conservation efforts. If you hire a bird watching tour on Puerto Vallarta, the money will help support the local conservation. Mexican authorities, thanks so much for your help!

Juvenile American Robin
Juvenile American Robin | Source

The Week at a Glance

Young birds are all around the lake for all to see. This crop of fledglings is a little larger than last year, and we have more Northern Cardinals and Brown Thrashers, just like many of you all over the country. Yes, there are years when there seems to be a favored species, so it is not your imagination. We are experiencing two days of rain, and I was fortunate to be able to travel between raindrops yesterday. Today is for a much needed rest, as well as observing the birds that come to visit me. They literally DO visit, for I have hosted the Song Sparrow, the Northern Mockingbird, House Finch, and a number of others. Some stay longer than others, and some have even helped themselves to nesting material, and they are polite visitors, for they leave me nothing unnecessary.

Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret | Source

Snowy Egret at the Northern Reaches

All is well at the Northern Reaches, especially the beautiful heron clan. As you know, there is a rookery here, and it draws many for both nesting and resting purposes. A couple of days ago, the striking Snowy Egret was here to visit, and I managed to get this shot. This water bird is smaller than the Great Egret, and moves about more quickly in the water, namely to stir up those dwellers on the surface, a wonderful food source.

Great Egret Sports Exquisite Breeding Plumage
Great Egret Sports Exquisite Breeding Plumage | Source

Great Egret

Great Egret was not far, as a matter of fact, about eight feet away from Snowy Egret. This lovely and less traveled area hosts a number of birds not normally found on the main part of the lake, and it is much more difficult to find them in the thick foliage. However, if one has a finely tuned ear, those priceless species are at the ready. My plan is to stay close to the area when fall arrives and the leaves start dropping, for there will be an assortment of woodpeckers and songbirds. Additionally, I expect a number of migrant water and shorebirds to settle for a few days, too. Fall migration has already begun in the northern states and Canada, so there should be some good finds upcoming. They will be a little worse for wear, as their breeding plumage will be worn, but they will still be striking to see. The warbler clan might be somewhat harder to identify, but it can be done with a good birding guide, if you’re not used to seeing them in non-breeding clothing.

European Starling
European Starling | Source

The Black Bird Family

Grackles and other blackbirds are less shy at this stage, as many of their youngsters are out of the nest and they aren’t being run ragged providing for them. The fledglings are out foraging for themselves, yet begging if they have the chance. Many of them aren’t ignore their pleas for assistance, because they really no longer need the help or the excuse.

Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker
Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker | Source

Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers are back on the ground in the park, as they only have to put up with me instead of other foot traffic. This lovely yellow-shafted is the only flicker here and you can see those beautiful yellow shafts in this click. There are also red-shafted, the widespread western form, and the gilded, which are in the area of Baja California and the surroundings, much less common.

Nestling Scissor-tailed Flycatchers
Nestling Scissor-tailed Flycatchers | Source

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

There are still nestling Scissor-tailed Flycatcher stragglers, but most have fledged. This Flycatcher is our state bird, so people are proud of this beauty, which has a very long tail and intricate and rare courtship rituals. There are other flycatchers in the area, as well as the Eastern and Western Kingbirds that are related. Once you have seen the beauty of a member of the flycatcher family, they will be indelibly marked in your mind’s eye for a long time to come.

Green Heron
Green Heron | Source

Green Heron

Green Heron has been a little more forgiving this year, and I am beginning to wonder if we might just have a nest in the area of the Southern Cove, as neither bird leaves it for long. I will continue to keep my eyes peeled, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. They can be hard to spot, and since this is a year of unusual activity, anything can happen on Boomer Lake.

Immature Northern Mockingbird
Immature Northern Mockingbird | Source

Northern Mockingbird

I finally caught an immature Northern Mockingbird where I least expected it. That’s why it is so important to look at every movement out there that you spot, for it could be the bird that you most want to see. See the spots on the chest? That denotes a young one. As a matter of fact, here is a young American Robin, too. They have the same sort of spots, but no relation. The robin is in the thrush family, and the mockingbird is a mimic, like the Brown Thrasher.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | Source

Great Blue Heron

I always save the best for last, and it is Great Blue Heron, which I simply adore. The grace, the silence, and the beauty of this bird appeal to me so much. There are still a few things that we need to learn about them, but they are only an open book to some degree. Here’s a poser for you. My friend, Jeannie, was in MO at a family reunion last weekend, and she spotted a great blue on the ground, deceased. A man saw the bird killed by electrocution. He tried to land on the high wires, which is totally out of character. I believe that he was disoriented due to dehydration and thought that he was landing in a tree. Sadly, I was unable to inspect the body to conduct a necropsy, so I can only surmise this.

Water is the Giver of Life

So please remember to keep water out for the birds. Water is actually more important than food, as you know how you feel if you’re getting dehydrated. Good thing that you haven’t the power to land in the high wires.

Until we met again next week, keep your eyes on the ground ad your head in the clouds. Happy birding. As always, let me know about unusual things that you see, and as you now, I will do the same.

Where is Boomer Lake in Stillwater, OK?

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | Source
Female Red-winged Blackbird
Female Red-winged Blackbird | Source
Eastern Cottontail "You Rang?"
Eastern Cottontail "You Rang?" | Source
Female Great-tailed Grackle
Female Great-tailed Grackle | Source

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, precy anza. We learn through education, and the more people that we can reach about these things to teach everyone, the better.

    • precy anza profile image

      precy anza 2 years ago from USA

      Hi there Avian :) So sad to learn about the fate of the raptor, thou it's been over a month you wrote this hub. And with the photos, enjoyed the visit in the lake as always. Seeing that hummingbird thrilled me.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, tazzytamar. I am doing my best to increase awareness.

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 2 years ago from chichester

      What absolutely stunning birds and beautiful photography! I'm so sad to hear about the rat poison killing the raptor, but I'm glad you put the information up here so that people can be more aware. These birds are all new on me so it's very exciting to see different species!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Meldz, the hummers are so interesting. The seem to enjoy reds and oranges, I am told. It's such a great way to host a colorful garden.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 3 years ago

      Beautiful. Our humming birds are also enjoying the flowers all around our garden.

      Have a wonderful day!:-)

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Peg! Water is more important to birds than food, just like with us. It is so easy to become dehydrated, and most people don't think about it in the winter. It is still every bit as important. Hope that all is well in Dallas.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This was another beautiful presentation of pictures and education, Deb. I'm sorry to hear about the raptor and the heron. Sad that our man-made poisons affect more than their intended victim. Good tip about making sure there's water out for the birds. It's really dry here in Texas and I see all kinds of birds on my back porch coming after the water dish.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Teaches, this has been going on for a long time. Glue traps and other horrors that ask capture small birds, are out there, too.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I love your thoughts on water as the giver of life, it is so true. I am saddened the raptors are endangered by the rat poison. Seems that once again man has made a grave mistake. I hope your bringing this to awareness will change someone's approach to the usage of this poison.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You're welcome, ChitrangadaSharan. You know that there will be lots more!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Beautiful pictures and very interesting information!

      Amazing birds I have not seen most of them. Thanks for sharing!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Alicia! As you can see, the birding world is alive and well, and it just might be getting better.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Very interesting, as always, Deb. Your reports are always filled with great information and useful facts.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Dave. Too many people have preconceived notions about raptors. Yes, they eat other birds, but they handle the mouse/vole/rat, etc. population is left to do their jobs properly. Others despise cormorants and other fish eaters, as they fear that these birds will eat all the fish that they can't…Education, again, is where I come in, I believe.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Deb, Rapture poisoning is a sad fact on this side of the water too. What is even more depressing is that they are deliberately poisoned in some regions. I have enjoyed another visit to Boomer Lake with you. My favourite photograph this week is the female red winged blackbird.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Nell! That was an easy picture of the rabbit. He didn't think I saw him because I didn't look at him as I approached. Then I snapped the shot when I could almost touch him.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi Deb, thats so horrible about the raptor, yes rat poison should only be used in basements etc, its so dangerous. The hummingbird 'voice' was amazing! so many different sounds in that little chirp! I love your 'rabbit/hare photo, you are amazing! how on earth did you capture that? lol! wonderful as always, nell

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      My mother always had a cat, Jackie, but she was an indoor cat, and enjoyed life as such. Keep her inside, and she'll be all right.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Jaye! Can't say that they didn't do themselves justice this week. However, I have noticed that butterflies are missing. They started well, but then disappeared...

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I stay away from rat poison but then I have to have a cat; they also keep the snakes away which I am terrified of. Just got me two kittens today but it will be another summer before I have to protect the birds. Birds I have noticed though are really much faster and smarter than cats; it takes some doing for them to catch one. I had Lily almost 20 years and in all that time I saw her with a bird twice and a hummingbird once and she always wanted to show off her catches so I'd say even though there was bound to have been a couple I didn't see the bird must have had problems for a cat to catch them. I will only have feeders for the birds in winter and it is so high they are safe. So I will stop apologizing now for getting cats! lol I love both birds and cats!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I'm so sorry about the raptor's tragic death. Rat poison is deadly to all types of animals, including pets that might find a dead rat full of the stuff. People obviously don't think clearly before using it...or don't care, which is worse.

      Your photos, as usual, are beautiful. The heron's always regal looking. So sad about the one that was electrocuted. Love the rabbit (and your caption is perfect). The fact about how fast a hummingbird's heart beats is mind-boggling.

      Great hub, Deb....as ever!

      Voted Up++++

      Jaye

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Leslie! Raptors are birds of prey, like eagles, hawks, owls, etc. That snow of yours better be gone by now.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I'm a chemist. Want me to work up something natural for you?

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 3 years ago

      Thought raptors died with the dinosaur age. Look what i learn here. I could do without anything 'SNOW' mind you...lol

      great work, as always Debxx

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I know it. I have all type in this house!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Insects can be just as bad sometimes, Kevin.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I will remember that if I need it. Luckily I do not have rats, just insects.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Kevin! The less rat poison we buy, the less money the companies make. Try this: 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup baking soda. Place some of it in a bowl where you can reach it again for the dead animal. Bury the animal or dispose of it in any other way.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 3 years ago

      I stay away from poisons of all types, so rat poison is definitely out for me. I am sorry for that raptor - and all of its partners who passed the same way. Until they stop making it, the birds will continue dying. :-(

      Congrats on the other birds Deb. All of the shots were great.

      Kevin

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You KNOW it, summerberrie. I really miss interacting with you. Many things are in the works, and I finally have my calling

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      summerberrie 3 years ago

      still love those sissor-tail flycatchers! Thanks for being such a wonderful advocate for our feathered friends.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Jill! There are so many interesting things going on, it is sometimes hard to keep up.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, whonu. I appreciate your support.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 3 years ago from United States

      Especially enjoyed your links this time, Deb. A fun post. Thanks!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 3 years ago from United States

      Beautiful pics and nice info my friend. whonu

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Mel! I need to see some of your birds, especially in the winter. I miss Green Heron, who has grown up. He remembers me, but not enough to go against nature.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      Your hummingbird was spectacular, and I am actually more partial to your Green Heron, which I have seen exactly once. Snowy Egrets with their golden slippers abound here, and our boisterous California Thrasher replaces your Brown Thrasher down in the wild canyons. Great hub!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      BUT here's the biggest help, Billy--that we get people to SHARE and pass the message on. Then everyone will know, and that's when the biggest impact will be made. The more people that we reach, the louder our voices.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rat poison...can you say Monsanto? Can you say the corporate enemy of mankind and the environment? This wanton killing has to stop, but we are the only ones who can make it stop...so we write our articles, Deb, and we make a difference one person at a time....and that is pretty cool when you think about it.