What Is It?

Name this fishing bird (BELOW):


Many species of birds visit the river behind our apartment building. The one pictured can dive completely under water from a swimming position to catch fish. He swims low in the water and uses his tail feathers as a fanned rudder while he trys to locate his dinner.

His fan tail, hooked beak, and black-webbed feet (not visible in this photo) identify him as a juvenile Cormorant.

Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg


Waxwings Return

A group of Cedar Waxwings visited the backyard a few days ago. I was able to get nice shots that highlight the “red wax” tips on the wing feathers.


I’m always happy when I can get a view of the bird’s claws clutching the branches in the trees as he observes his surroundings.


The Cedar Waxwing is named for these red tip “wax-like” highlights seen in these photos.


Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Honey Versus Plastic

In http://www.horsesandanimalsaretalkin.wordpress.com “Kissing Cardinals”, Honey told Lionel she wanted plastic to line her nest.

Here are some more shots of her struggle to accomplish that, particularly in a stiff wind:





Finished product !!



“WHAT…? It’s my nest!”

Honey and Lionel are now awaiting a family:


P.S. In last night’s storm, most of Honey’s hard-earned plastic blew out of the nest prior to her beginning her final egg-laying repose.


Our Cardinal Pair

Cardinals have been gloriously prevalent in our backyard this Spring!


Here is the female partner of our fabulous pair gathering nesting twigs for her work along the Maumee River bank. She takes on most of the nest-building duties. She is more careful to stay hidden, using her camouflaging feathers.


Although the beautifully red male does contribute a few items to the nest now and then and visit the female to check her progress and offer encouragement, his main objective is to guard the operations. And he makes no bones about his presence, standing tall and alert and visible. From his heights, he continuously watches over his female partner and whistles and signals to her whatever messages are necessary.

(See http://www.horsesandanimalsaretalkin.wordpress.com for more.)


All Alone


This stubby little fellow seems to be seeking companionship. He usually travels in a flock!

I didn’t know exactly what type of bird he is and couldn’t find him in my bird book until a friend suggested he was an American Coot. And that he is! American Coots are more of a Southern bunch, so seeing this single fellow standing alone near the bridge in the Maumee River at Napoleon, Ohio, was quite the rarity.

Though stubby, this specimen can dive under water as far as 10 to 25 feet to find food, mostly seeds, roots, and leaves, as well as small fish.

Big River — Big Birds — Big Wings

We are lucky enough in our small town of Napoleon, Ohio, to have a big river — the Maumee River, which runs all the way to Toledo and Lake Erie — and to be able to enjoy some big birds that frequent the waterway. Napoleon is cradled North and South of the river and is located between Grand Rapids, Ohio, (east) and Florida, Ohio, (west).

In late Summer and early Autumn, we can photograph Great White Egrets and Great Blue Herons, both pictured below as I captured them “fish-hopping” in the Maumee.

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The top picture is a Great White Egret (black legs, yellow peak) shown rising into take-off from the water with just one wing showing. As you can see, he has an amazing wingspan!

The second picture shows the long, long neck both these big birds possess. The length is very handy for catching fish under water. This photo also demonstrates an apparent gray-blue color of a Great Blue Heron at standing rest.

In the third photo, a Great Blue Heron shows darkened colors as they appear in low light while he prepares to land at his favorite fishing spot.

Gliding over the river in brighter light in the fourth picture is a Great Blue Heron displaying his full wingspan and true colors of white feathers with bluish-purple trim.

In the last two photos, you can see how both birds pull in those long necks during flight. Observe the heron’s (top photo) yellowish-black legs extending beyond his short tail feathers and the egret’s (bottom photo) all black legs.


On the Pond

Last night on the Pond (Maumee River) there drifted a gaggle of 85-plus Canada Geese. Huddled at the Eastern side of the bridge, they were supposedly taking advantage of a large tree/log jam underneath the structure that resulted in a pond-like area near the shoreline. However, it was too dark for one to snap any photos of the paddling birds.

In the morning, I returned to the area to see how many were left. The geese gaggle had just flown the coop and landed a ways off on the Western side of the bridge.



On the bridge’s Eastern side, a little group of Mallards were hanging together.


In the meantime, some straggling geese made a bee-line for the main hive:



Ah, the Pond, where mates are made and tag-along friends are welcome, too!

Flying Around

With my limited equipment (described on the “About” page of this blog), it is interesting to discover the number of feathered friends we have behind our apartment building along the Maumee River.

Here are a few visitors:

Well, perhaps these aren’t all feathered! 🙂

A scavenger hawk, a pigeon in full wing upswing, and herring gulls shared the sky with a “silver bird”.

Canada Geese are a common bird flying around the territory.

Grackles invade berry-bearing trees, and sometimes look like jet fighters in the air.

Gulls fly along the river in singles, pairs, and groups, sometimes dipping quite low over the bridge.


Pigeons that roost atop the pilings under the bridge fly a daily ritual around, under, and above the bridge, and to the nearby downtown Courthouse and back.


By far the most frequent flyers along the river are the various gulls.

Except for “silver-birded” humans, of course!

Great Blue at the Bridge

Great Blue Herons are one of several big birds that spent the Summer and Fall catching fish along the Maumee River near the bridge in Napoleon, Ohio.

I had several opportunities to shoot some close-ups of Great Blues (BELOW.)

It’s quite amazing that the Great Blue can appear rather grey, or bluish, in a standing position, but “morph” into a great creature whose front feathers feature white and are bordered in the back in magnificent deep purplish-blue while in flight.