2020 Pix
All photographs are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.
© 2020 - All Rights Reserved


Here are some pictures from 2020. So you know there is all kinds of great stuff to see.
It's just that I can't get good photos of it. They are point-and-shoot study
material or documentation grab-shots. These are the photos used on the bird news page.
They are in reverse chronological order as used (last most recent at top-start; first
in Jan. at bottom-end). They were taken with a Canon Powershot SX40.



Green Jay

Here is one of the Green Jay that visited our yard Oct. 19 and 21 so far. Whaddabird! There were at least three in the group maybe four, on the 19th. Winter of '08-09 some small flocks invaded the plateau getting up to Leakey and Bandera, at least. That was the winter Syd and Jackie Chaney had a few coming in to their corn feeder a mile south of town.


Green Jay

One pic just isn't enough. Don't worry, if I get them in the sun, you will get to see plenty more ...


Cordilleran Flycatcher

This is a bad pic of a good bird, so which is allowable. It was a long-distance accidently high ISO docushot grab. Canon autofocus grabbed the background on 9 of 10 shots. Miracle there is this one bad one. This is the Cordilleran Flycatcher at Utopia Park Oct. 14. It does not show how green above and yellowish below the bird was. Note the big white teardrop shape behind the eye typical of the two 'Western' Flycatcher complex species. Luckily it was giving diagnostic calls so I knew what I was looking for before I laid eyes on it.


Cooper's Hawk

This is an adult Cooper's Hawk at our birdbath.
Always have a thick bush or stick pile next to the
bath so birds have a place to dive into just in case.


Zebra Heliconian

Here is the Zebra Heliconian (or Longwing) that has been
around the yard all week, 5 days now. First one we have
had locally since 2016, for me at least.


Alder Flycatcher

This is the first pic of an Alder Flycatcher here. Sorry about the grainy and over-exposed, settings were for in the dark woods. It was much greener and yellower than these pics show. Fortunately it was in a calling mood unlike most that pass through. It makes a good generic Empidonax flycatcher pic. Oliveish above, some yellowish below, usually a messy breastband of olive, two wingbars and an eyering. Ya seen one you seen 'em all, just hope they call. Actually they are learnable, but are usually the last group of birds one learns well, which means well enough to ID most of them even when they are silent.


Audubon's Oriole

Another little seen, depicted, and known plumage. This is a first summer Audubon's Oriole, about a year old and just molting into its first adult type plumage. The black feathers are all new adult type plumage. Some new olive back feathers, and yellow throat feathers are also coming in, more adult plumage. Note this bird as a juvenile started out all green and greenish-yellow, before these feathers faded with a beating from a year of wear. As the birds in the break pics a few weeks ago. The yellow-green underparts are now very pale, nearly white in places. Some of the formerly green upperparts are worn to gray as upper tail coverts or rump, and scapulars. Keep in mind green can wear to gray in a year. You can see this in flycatchers (Empidonax, pewees), buntings (Painted), and even warblers among other things. The dirt stuck on the bill is Texas Persimmon, lots of birds here show this mid-Aug. to Sept.


Least Grebe

Here is a better pic of the Least Grebe at the golf course pond by the Waresville Cmty., this pic taken Aug. 30, two months into its visit. Said to be 9" long, book measurements are often of a museum specimen with neck stretched out. You would swear if you saw this bird all 4 oz. would fit in the palm of your hand.


Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird, one of two at our feeders Aug. 30. Note wings extend past the very short tail, bill is short as the head, pale peachy sides. Has a nice soft chip note too. America's smallest bird at 3.25", and up close they don't seem that big. This is probably an immature male.




a big bonus selection...

For pix we are going to show some greenies this week. That is non-adult male Painted Bunting. They are green buntings, and can be a juvenile (this years young), an adult female, or a first spring male, so fairly tricky to sex and age at a glance. I will chip these off into a separate page one day, but for now here is some study material.

Painted Bunting

This is a nearly year-old first spring or summer (on left), and a fresh juvenile (right) Painted Bunting. While most first spring males are all green like females, some first spring/summer males show some reddish color on underparts, maybe 10% here. Those stay mostly like this one all spring and summer. Another color phase of first spring males has some blue flecks in head and is yellower below.


Painted Bunting

This is a worn female. I can't say if a one year old, or more. But I think a first summer. The worn tail tells us it is not a juvenile, and a female that has been nesting. Note the bright green back compared to the dull gray head. Either the back feathers are new and fresh, or, are unworn as is the rest of the bird. Most of the bird is year old worn grayed formerly green feathers. Green wears to gray in many birds, like Empidonax flycatchers which are often very green when fresh and gray when worn. That head was initially green.


Painted Bunting

This is a first spring male in May. The blueish area on shoulder is a tip off for a first spring male. Not all show it but if present, it is a young male.


Painted Bunting

Not sure on this one, taken Sept. 15, it is probably an adult female.


Painted Bunting

See the greenie?




clytie ministreak

Here is a Clytie Ministreak (Ministrymon clytie), Aug. 18, 2020, on Snow-on-the-Mountain in our driveway. This plant has twice the flowers of the other specimens around because the hose squirt reaches it, and BAM! A Mexican species, generally in the U.S. a deep south Texas brush country specialty, extremely rare on the Edwards Plateau. This image is about 10 times life size.



anhinga

The female Anhinga that was at Utopia Park Aug. 12.
Males are all black of chest and neck. This is a long
distance high-mag docushot. Water-Turkey and Snakebird
were understandable names for it. They often swim
with body underwater and just head and neck exposed.





To catch up on the mystery birds ...

The birds in photo breaks the two prior weeks were juvenile (HY - hatch-year) Audubon's Oriole.

audubonsoriole

This might be the same bird as last week, or another in same group.
What lovely plumage.



audubonsoriole

This appears to be... an excellent photo quiz picture.
Tail is spread, left wing spread, head shows well. It is
always great to get any shots of this little-seen plumage,
and acquire more breeding evidence as well. If only I
could see the brows, squirming, and page flippin'.  ;)



Here are a couple bonus pix...
dragonflies

Here is a dragonfly trifecta. Three species in a single frame,
in focus enough to ID. At upper right is a male Comet Darner,
very rare here. Center is a Red-tailed Pennant, scarce but
almost annual, and at left is a Red Saddlebags.



tubpond

Here is the start of the 50 gallon tub pond. Nothing left to do
but drink beer and wait for Sora, Marsh Wren, and Least Bittern.



paintedbunting

It is that time of year again... July, when some
adult male Painted Bunting initiate some sort of
supplemental molt we do not seem to understand.
Some ad.ma. are perfectly fully red below now, others
mottled with light areas, sometimes yellowish. Here
is another variation you won't find well-described
in the literature. I noted this male getting pale a
week plus prior to this pic.



yellowbilledcuckoo

How can you tell it is 104F here? That is what it takes
to get a cukcoo at the birdbath. Otherwise juicy worms
(caterpillars) and such provide enough moisture. Only the
third time in 16+ years to see one drink at the bath, all
three times it was 104 or more. Was at 3 diff. yards too.
Ya gotta love those zygodactyl feet! Two toes forward, 2 back.
Note yellow on upper mandible, not just the lower.



blackbelliedwhistlingduck

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, formerly known as (B-b) 'Tree-Duck'
for their habit of perching in trees. They whistle well too.
A few nest locally, the immatures are duller and have dark bills.



leastgrebe

This is the Least Grebe at the pondlet adjacent to the
Waresville Cmty, June 27. Tiny, mostly gray with yellow eyes.
Whaddabird! Likely the first Utopia area record. This
one shows the dark throat of breeding plumage.



cometdarner

One of two Comet Darner (Anax longipes), at the
pondlet by Waresville Cmty., Utopia, June 28, 2020.



yellowbilledcuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo can spot a green caterpillar on a green leaf
from two-hundred feet. They are one of few things that tear into
the tents to eat tent caterpillars, and they eat other hairy cats
that nothing else touches. Tails are very long, it is cutoff here.



Here are a couple fuzzy Black-capped Vireo photos...
blackcappedvireo

This is a plumage otherwise not shown here yet,
so it gets a pass on the otherwise poor quality,
a female Black-capped Vireo, with slate gray head.



blackcappedvireo

The head of a fully adult male is jet coal black.



caveswallow

Cave Swallow gathering mud for the nest. Note the buffy throat
and chestnut forehead are the opposite of a Cliff Swallow.



downywoodpecker

This is the female Downy Woodpecker that was attending
begging young just south of town in early May. This is
the first Sabinal River drainage nesting record. I could
not see the nest on private property, but was listening to
at least two begging young while I took this photo. The
staining on the face which normally just pure black and
white is the result of digging the nest hole in the tree.



goldencheekedwarbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler. Probably an adult female in a very
little-seen plumage, post-breeding pre-basic molt. Note the
admixed upperparts feathers, new green (crown and back) feathers
coming in replacing old dull worn grayish ones (as scapulars).
Late season females can get quite gray above from wear before they molt.



greatcrestedflycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher showing the diagnostic
pinkish-orange mouth-lining. Nice rictal bristles.
The better to funnel those bugs right into that maw.
This bird was letting an uppity 1st spring male Summer
Tanager that landed too close in a threatening way as if
an attempt to displace it, that it needed to back off
and work on social distancing better. It opened beak
real wide aiming it right at it, and the tanager left.
Winning through intimidation.



commonyellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat, male, at our birdbath.
Sorry about the grainy, was early in morn,
bath is in shade, and was heavy overcast.
It wouldn't stop flicking wings and tail.
I have seen more this spring than any in the
last 17, by at least a factor over prior best year.
The only warbler that showed well this spring here.



goldencheekedwarbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler, male, May 4, 2020.
Utopia is where you can see this in your birdbath.



pintailedpondhawk

Here is a poor docushot of the Pin-tailed Pondhawk
at Lost Maples April 26. It was on the other side
of the pond 75' away.



goldencheekedwarbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, testing the water
at Can Creek, in Lost Maples SNA.


goldencheekedwarbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, bathing.


goldencheekedwarbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler, female. She left and preened a bit,
returned, keeping an eye on us, and bathed some more.


goldencheekedwarbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler, female, after bathing.



easternphoebe

These are a couple of the Eastern Phoebe fledglings just
before they left the nest later this same day, April 20.



Here are a few poor Chimney Swift photos.
chimneyswift

This one was calling as it went over a chimney, head is
lifted up in an odd position, wings bowed down. Why it
slowed enough for me to catch it.


chimneyswift

What I like about this pic of the speed demon with the 14" wingspan is that it is the same exact pose you see a several pound albatross with a 7' wingspan in, out at sea. Standing on a wingtip, cutting the wind effortlessly, with incredible speed. That long thin wing works well.


chimneyswift

This one is going away. Note that knife-shaped wing with fairly straight
trailing edge. The tail is often held closed into a point like this.
Learn the shapes of birds.


chimneyswift

See ya!



hermitthrush

Hermit Thrush at the bath. Note rusty tail.



grasshoppersparrow

Sorry about the gray clouding from the window screen.
This is looking down on the crown of a Grasshopper Sparrow.
Nice median crown stripe. The eye position is interesting
to me, allowing it to see above and behind it to a degree.
I'd have seen twice as many birds with eyes like that.



yellowthroatedwarbler

Yellow-throated Warbler, male, presumedly the local breeding
individual that uses the yard daily or so all spring to fall.



cecropia

This is a Cecropia, one of America's big fancy moths.
Wingspan is about 5" and what a beauty! March 17, 2020.



anole

An Anole, aka American Chameleon. Over a dozen live
around the house, they are coming back out now after
wintering in the cracks in the stone outer layer of house.



yellowbelliedsapsucker

This is a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, note all white throat.
Note big black crescent on breast not present on intergrade or hybrid
sapsucker below. Due to black crown with only a very few red feathers,
this is not an adult, so then, a first-spring bird not yet a year old,
just acquiring its first adult plumage. White areas on posterior head
and nape still show some muddiness to them from immature plumage.



sapsucker

sapsucker

This is the hybrid or intergrade sapsucker seen last week.
Note on the top pic the amount of red on head is out of limits
for normal Red-naped or Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. This
requires Red-breasted Sapsucker genes. On the second pic
note red on breast below throat, again, requiring Red-breasted
genes. Note also there is no black crescent on the breast.
Note the solid red forehead to nape over crown. It could be some
sort of backcross or who knows what kind of combo. It is
of interest in Texas since it is partly Red-breasted Sapsucker
which are very rare in the state.



commongrackle

Here is the mystery bird I posted at the end of last year.
It saw a Cooper's Hawk and dropped like a rock off
the snag into thick willows below. It is just growing out
a new tail, so does not have the full tail we expect on
an adult male Common Grackle. Taken Sept. 20, 2019
The cropped blowup of the bird is right above Dec. 27 entry.



redbat

Here is the bat that is hanging around. It looks pretty
rusty-toned in person, methinks it is a Red Bat.



americanredstartfieldsparrow

This is a flashback from last fall. Field Sparrow
on the bath, American Resdart on rock.



vermilionflycatcher

This is the male Vermilion Flycatcher at the golf
course pond by the Waresville Cmty., Jan. 26.



harlanshawk

I specialize in bad pix of good birds. This is the
Harlan's Hawk we had south of Sabinal a few
weeks ago. We saw it much better than this, close.
And it was awesome.



longbilledthrasher

This is a Long-billed Thrasher wondering what I am looking at.



greenjay

Whaddabird! Green Jay, near Sabinal Jan. 5.
This is how you see everything in south Texas
brush-country, through branches and twigs in the brush.
What this shows well is how bright plumage in dappled
light becomes a type of camo.



~ ~ ~

Berteau House

Just to give an idea, here is a pic showing part of the yard, house and cottage, so you can get an idea of where much of the stuff being written about is being seen. This pic was May 2013, barely two months after we moved into this place. Now there are butterfly flowers around the porch and in flower beds. The yard lists are: 45 species of odes (dragons-damsels), 94 sps. of butterflies, 7 sps. of frogs & toads, 7 sps. of native lizards, 20 sps. of native mammals, about 100 sps. of plants (mostly wildflowers), and now at the 7 year point, about 230 species of birds.



Quick links to the last few years.
2015 pix
2016 pix
2017 pix
2018 pix
2019 pix


If you have arrived here from our Bird Photos page, you may close your browser to return to the Bird Photos index.

Other visitors may click your "Back" button on your browser or select a link to keep visiting!
All photographs within this site are copyrighted
and may not be used without permission.
All Rights Reserved.
© M. and K. Heindel 2006-2020
www.utopianature.com