When I left Taiwan three decades ago, Sparrows and Swallows are probably the only two common birds that I knew. I lived in the city and was stuffed in the tightly-wedged condominium type of tall buildings. Trees were a luxury, not to mention birds. Now I have the pleasure of looking at trees and greens all day long where the birds dwell. Starting from backyard birds, I am now gaining more interest in finding birds in the more wild and natural habitats. For one thing, shooting birds from a feeder is not very rewarding.
I often heard birds chirp or call, but I don’t always have the luck to find them. In the last couple of years, I may have gone to some places to photograph birds, but there is no comparison with what I experienced in this birding adventure, my first official birding trip. I like birds because they have humanlike behavior and personality besides their characteristic appearance.
Two babies (my speculation) are waiting outside the nest for their parents to bring food home. Golden Eagle built the nest up high on the cliff. The male bird flew towards the nest the moment when he saw us approaching. They are so protective of their young. And, check out this pair of love birds, Lazuli Buntings. Just like House Finches and Bald Eagle couples, they are together wherever they go.
Swallows are always dashing in the air. Every once in a while, if you are lucky, you might spot one resting on the tree branch, otherwise high on the electrical wire… Not only that I first saw the lovely Violet Green Swallows. I was also able to catch him in flight with a full wingspan after numerous attempts, of course. How would I ever dream that the whole Tree Swallow family were out sunbathing early in the morning?
Whenever I see a bird that I have not seen before, I thank God. The Almighty seems to always detect the desire in my heart and graciously granted my wish. Owls are my most desired birds on this trip. I saw Great Horn Owl in the past, but they were usually standing high on the trees and half-hidden in the branches. This time he flew right outside of my window! I wanted to see a different kind of Owl for a long and here is this Burrowing Owl, so blended in with the sagebrush and mixed vegetation here. If I did not go with the group, I would not be able to find it. This bird weighs only 5 oz, can you believe it?
Warbler size birds are my favorites. They are active, cute, and constantly moving. Just like Swallows, they barely give you a chance to snap a shot. I’d pointed my camera following their traffic trails for a long time before I finally got a few clear pictures. The pictures are harder to get and therefore precious to me.
I have chased pheasants for four years and have not been able to come up with a good picture. Still not a great image, but I am recording it for further improvement. I know I will get a perfect one some day if I don’t give up. Flycatchers and Western Tanagers are on my desire list and here they are. It seems to me, that all I need to do is to desire, and the desire will be granted in due time.
On this 3-day trip to Malheur Wildlife Refuge, I saw total 56 different kinds of birds and half of them are new to me. Above are just a few examples. Can you believe it?