Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A surprise, an observance, and a chuckle

After a nice string of incredibly beautiful sunny fall days, I awoke to cloudy threatening skies this morning.  That was okay though since I had to work the Pea Island VC today.  I’d much rather have gorgeous weather on my days off.  It is interesting how the weather effects visitation at the two VCs.  On Pea Island, more folks seem to stop in on sunny days when they’re on their way to the beach.  At Gateway, we seem to have our biggest crowds when it’s raining.  Go figure…

69  Pea Island & Alligator River NWRs  201221

The relatively low human turn out at Pea Island today allowed me plenty of time to monitor the activity at the bird feeders which are visible through the pond facing picture windows.  I was surprised to see this unusual looking fellow.  I’m going to call it a partial albino, adult male red-winged blackbird.  I know partial albino is not the correct term, but the scientific name for this abnormality of scattered white feathering just seems to not be rolling off my tongue or fingertips this evening.  Thinking smile


Near the bird feeders is also an automatically filled bird bath.  I’m going to guess that what you see in this photo differs from what I observe.  To some people, it will be four birds at a birdbath.  To others it might be three boat-tailed grackles and a female cowbird at a bird bath.  To me, it is the latter observation, but I also noted that two of the grackles are in the middle of their yearly molt of tail feathers.  Most adult birds renew all of their feathers each late summer or early fall, and that molt, or renewal, is often done in matching pairs of feathers on each side of the bird.  If you think about it, it is really quite fascinating.  By the end of the nesting season each year their feathers are worn and frayed, and they certainly need a new set to be able to carry on with either migration or keeping themselves warm in the upcoming winter.  Kind of like buying a new winter coat or some new outfits for a vacation in the south.  Rolling on the floor laughing  (I know this may be TMI for some folks, but you have to understand that I’m a bird nerd.  Not an expert, mind you, but a nerd just the same.)


Then this afternoon, the raccoon made an appearance and brought two youngsters with her.  The young ones were a little shy and skittish to begin with, but soon adjusted.


That’s mom on the right, and one of the youngsters on the left.  Mom was all about eating seeds, but her children were all about exploring and having fun. 


I just couldn’t help but chuckle at their antics.  I tried to put the pics of them into a collage, but as some of you may know, when you do that it crops your photos to fit and sometimes that doesn’t work out.  So I’m just going to show each one separately. 


At one point, this little guy grabbed a hold of mom’s tail, and she dragged him around on his back as she searched for more seeds to eat.


                                                        What a grand time they had exploring.


Then the skies opened up, and they all headed into hiding.  I think they’re cute little bandits as long as they stay away from my feeders!  They sure helped pass the time for me on a slow day at work.  It’s not really work, but you know what I mean.


                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy


  1. Bird Nerd...I love it! Love learning from you about the birds, Judy!

  2. You always have very interesting tidbits about the birds, actually any of the animals, that you see.

  3. Delightful show they put on for you.

  4. The Red-wing Blackbird almost looks like it has the breast of a Rosy-breasted Grosbeak.
    We had a "semi-albino" house sparrow in the yard early spring...was the cutest thing with his little white head.

  5. I love watching the young play.

  6. Judy, I think most bloggers think of you as a bird expert. I know I do. But you also know a lot about many other animals and even insects, snakes, and flowers. It's kind of amazing that you used to be a math teacher, not a biology teacher! :)

  7. I used to like raccoons until one managed to slide open our patio door and eat half of our thawing Thanksgiving turkey in the kitchen sink. :c(

    Long story, good for around a campfire.

  8. Nothing wrong with being a bird nerd. We enjoy all the info and pictures you share with us.

  9. Excellent observations by the bird nerd, but I like the chuckle portion of this post the best ... I bet the raccoons were really fun to watch.

  10. I didn't know that raccoons came out that long during the day. What neat photos.

  11. I can enjoy looking at the antics of raccoons now that we don't have a garden or raise chickens.

  12. As always, lots of good info. NOT TMI!

  13. The racoon family is so cute, oh but what trouble those youngen's can get into!!

  14. Bird nerd! Now that's a great title for you :) You must have loved teaching. You're still doing it! Thanks

  15. Judy, I think the term you are looking for is Leucism or leucistic.

    Described on About.com Birds as: "Leucism, or leukism, is an abnormal plumage condition caused by a genetic mutation that prevents pigment, particularly melanin, from being properly deposited on a bird’s feathers."

    From one "bird nerd" to another. :-)

  16. Haven't been on your blogs while things have been hectic around here for the past month. It was great catching up and looking at all your wonderful photos. Hope you are doing well.

  17. Great pics of those little racoons. If you want to create a collage using full size pics, try the 'picture pile' method, Judy. After it displays the original mess of photos, you can move them around, straighten them up and even resize them on the go while still retaining a full image.

  18. as always. . .great pics. . .and I learned something about the birds molting and renewing feather in pairs. . .very interesting!


  19. I just LOVE the photo of the little raccoon feeling the corn
    stalk with his little paws. Raccoons can be a pest I know, especially
    at bird feeders, but you have to admit they are cute!
    Just great photos!!

  20. Wow I have spent days reading your blog updates, I am almost to the end of your posts. I will be sad when that happens, but will look forward to new updates. I can't remember how I found your blog, could be because of pea island. I live in Sonoma CA, but travel frequently to visit my friend Chlorita in NC. We will be making our 7th trip to the Outer banks next month, sadly I think you will have moved on. We stay in a funky little beach house located half a block from the beach in Kill Devil Hills. I know Chlorita's dogs Bosco and Ellie May would just love Emma! All of us will miss meeting you! I am excited to show Chlorita many of your updates and pictures. I am also a mosquito magnet so plan on covering myself with spray. We will enjoy our stay and the shelling we love. We will also spend time with a family in Manteo with a grown up girl who survived cancer. I wrote to her for years and finally got to meet her and her parents four years ago. It is always a happy celebration to get together with them. I get your itch, I am more than ready to get out of town! Hopefully our paths will cross another time, let me know if you are ever in Northern CA!