Monday, May 23, 2011

A Walk in the Park

I took a walk in the park today. There is always a wide variety of birds and other creatures down by the water, including snakes--I was very careful!

The first thing I noticed was a scissor-tailed flycatcher on the telephone wire above my head when I got out of the truck. He had the longest tail I have ever seen on a little bird. He turned his head from side to side, posing for the camera.

Also known as the Texas Bird of Paradise and the Swallowtail Flycatcher, the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher is among the most exotic-looking birds in Texas. These birds are truly stunning, but in a delicate way, not quite as eye-catching as the equally popular Painted Buntings. They have soft gray heads, pale pink flanks and dark gray wings. Their most distinguishing feature, however, is their long, forked tails that are black on top and white beneath.

Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers are in the Tyrannus genus, in the Tyrannidae family, and are also known as kingbirds. They are beneficial, insect-eating birds, mostly grasshoppers and dragonflies, and convenient to have around, especially if one lives near the river. They are 15 inches or longer when fully grown, though juvenile birds have shorter tails. I photographed both adult and juvenile birds at the park today.

It grew very windy this afternoon, so I started back toward the truck where my husband was fishing. A few feet from his pole, standing tall on a rock, was a large blue heron. My husband didn't even notice him until I started photographing the bird--he stood so still he looked like a statue. One of the more remarkable aspects of herons is their huge wings. They don't seem very large when they're standing still, but as they fly away, you quickly realize how big they are. Their wings span as much as 80 inches!

Just before I got into my truck, I noticed two white ducks beneath a tree. They were huddled close together in the wind, digging through the grass, looking for bugs. I took their picture and when I checked it later on my computer, I would swear one of the ducks is smiling contentedly, snuggled up beside its mate.

There was surprisingly few grackles. I usually see grackles everywhere I go in Texas!

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