Strike a Pose

A close-up of a young red-tailed hawk looking into the camera while preening its feathers on the auto tour of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington on February 9, 2008. Original: _MG_8524.cr2

A young red-tailed hawk pauses while preening its front feathers on a winter afternoon at Ridgefield in 2008. Although birds of this age have long since lost the the extreme nervousness they had after fledging, I like that its expression portrays some of the goofiness they retain as they experience new things in their first year. Not that they should be underestimated, they are already formidable predators as the blood around its mouth and beak suggest. The signposts near the auto tour were favored perches of the young hawks and provided opportunities to watch them at length, especially on rainy days if traffic was sparse.

A close-up of a young red-tailed hawk preening its feathers on the auto tour of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington on February 9, 2008. Original: _MG_8517.cr2

Home Soon

A white-winged dove, its face matted with fruit juice, sits atop an unripened saguaro fruit with its mouth open as it prepares to preen in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

We close on our house in a couple of days. We have a walkthrough around lunchtime with the owners then take possession on Thursday and move in a couple of weeks. The white-winged doves will be home soon too, at least their summer home, although I’m not exactly sure when they’ll arrive. This one was feeding on saguaro fruit in July, I felt so much sympathy for them as their faces were matted with juice as they stuck their heads into the fruit to feed. As much as they like to be clean, they were going to be migrating soon and had to strike while the iron was hot.

Preen Before Green

An American crow pauses while preening before moss-covered rocks at Heceta Head on the Oregon coast

An American crow pauses while preening before moss-covered rocks on the beach at Heceta Head on the Oregon coast. It’s a bit bittersweet looking back at the pictures I took a year ago on this wonderful trip as it turned out to be my last visit to the coast, a few weeks later my team got laid off and the wheels were set in motion that led us from Oregon. Someday I’d love to go back, the Oregon coast is so wonderful even I’d consider getting on a plane to visit, but for now my interest is in exploring my new home.

Down Upon the Bittern’s Beak

Downy feathers cling to an American bittern's beak after a preening session

Downy feathers cling to an American bittern’s beak after a preening session on a rainy winter afternoon. This one was at South Quigley Lake at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, my second favorite place to watch for bitterns on the refuge (and the first if there aren’t tall grasses along the final channel beside Rest Lake, like during the winter this was taken).