Beautiful Birds Along the Rio Grande

Dexter and I enjoyed a lovely walk along the Rio Grande again today. It was a sunny 72 degrees with a light breeze. Heaven! Along the way, we encountered several beautiful birds starting with my old friend from yesterday, the Phainopepla. I was ready for him this time having brought my Nikon D5200 fitted with the 55-300mm lens:

The mistletoe in this tree really set off his shiny black feathers and bright red eye.

Next, I spotted a Black Crested Night Heron hunting along the banks of the river. I managed one good shot of him before he took flight. He was also sporting a bright red eye!

I was amazed at how large he looked in flight compared to how compact he was on shore. He made such cool shapes with his body in flight.

We continued along the trail as it ran parallel to the river, stopping frequently to look for more birds. I have learned that scoping out birds to shoot with the camera requires a bit of patience. It helps to Stop, Listen, and Look. When birds sense movement, like when you are walking, they scatter as fast as Munchkins in the face of the Wicked Witch of the West! If you remain still, they will return to their business in a relatively short period of time. Listening helps to pinpoint their location. Often, birds are surrounding you but they can be difficult to see when they are tucked back into the landscape or shrubbery. Blending in well with their surrounding with natural camouflage helps them stay alive. I'm beginning to become familiar with the calls of several birds and listening to their chatter helps me to locate them in a tree or shrub.

This beautiful Cedar Waxwing blended in well with his surroundings with his yellow belly. He was easier to spot out in the open.

This little House Finch kept his eye on me and Dexter from a safe distance to see what we were up to.

Dexter kept himself amused while I shot photos. I kept him tethered to me by buttoning his leash into my shirt. That leaves my hands free to shoot. He's getting better at the "wait" command and takes the opportunity to roll in the dirt when we stop walking. Notice the "Who Me?? I wasn't doin' nothin'" expression on his face. Yeah right....I see another bath in his future.

I caught up with the Phainopepla again further down the river. He seemed to be trying to get the attention of a young lady in the tree but was being rebuffed either by her or by another suitor. He kept trying though and was posing, calling, and showing off his tail feathers in an attempt to garner her favor.

In the same tree,  I encountered a pair of Western Blue Birds eating their lunch. One finally came out into the open long enough for a quick shot.

On our way back to the camper, we spotted this Ladder-Backed Woodpecker feeding in the low brush.

It was a good birding day!