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Got a good reason For taking the easy way out
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About Me...The Bird Brained Up Close & Personal

For the last 4 years of what is now going on 11 years living here in the Coastal Bend of the state of Texas, I have become an avid birder and amateur photographer of such. Bud and I were talking about the birds we've seen while birding and both wondered just how many different birds have been recorded in our state. Collectively, during migration, there have been a phenomenal number...recorded total [according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife site] is 615!! Some of which are only migratory, being that they don't 'settle' here but migrate in Spring and Fall from northern North America or south to the tropics of Central and South America...but, their migratory flight path crosses Texas. Of the 615, an estimated 333 cross our area of Texas to vast areas for breeding or southern wintering grounds. That boggles my mind.



Some have asked me how I got so interested in bird photography. Well, my previous paragraph kinda explains that in a nutshell. I live in Texas. But, I can tell you my 'love' of birds, as far as I can remember is around the tender age of 6 or 7. I got a chance to spend a month with my aunt who lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. I had a special upstairs room where...


...I slept there while visiting with her. Of course, we baked and played games, like any aunt would entertain her young guest...but my room was my young girl's sanctuary. And it had a window on one wall that looked out to a Black Walnut Tree!! It was a huge tree and not because I was so small...it was huge even when I returned as a married adult. Anyway, this one time of year I was there with her, a mating couple of Northern Cardinals nested and raised a family in the tree just outside that window. The beautiful red of the male, I looked forward to seeing daily. It has remained my all time favorite because of the 'history tied between me and the Cardinal".

Back in Colorado, as a youngster and teen, the Bald Eagle was my fascination. We'd see a lot of them nesting on the Rocky Mountain cliff-sides near where we lived. A few Golden Eagles could be seen at times. AND...my folks, even at their ripe, golden olden days before passing, had bird feeders. Oftentimes I'd sit and watch birds with them. After marrying Bud, one of the first things I had him do for me was to build bird feeder boxes that stretched across the entire window sills just outside the house....a huge picture window, the entire window boxed with feeders. We'd have dozens of seed eating birds frequent the feeders different times of the year. My favorites back then were the boisterous Blue Jays.

Then, retirement...we moved from the snowy land of the Colorado Rockies to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Here, the Cactus Wren and Gambel's Quail caught my interest. Among other colorful birds we never saw in Colorado.

Texas then entered our lifestyle, only 'cause for decades I wanted to live in a mild clime with the sea close to me, after 50+ years of being landlocked, I wanted the vast open space and the salty air of nearby ocean...the Gulf of Mexico was a good choice. And I was flabbergasted as to the different birds, the numbers, we saw in our first season here. I had to have a good camera, and we decided it was healthy to go birding. We have been out and about, birding, at least three times a week since my passion erupted. Not only hunting for a certain species, but getting in a LOT of walking along the coast, the shorelines, and finding bird sanctuaries in the surrounding areas. To name a few, Indian Point, Port Aransas, Pollywog Pond, numerous parks, state and federal parks, Lake Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Brownsville, Victoria, Falfurrias, the Rio Grande Valley, Goliad, Rockport, Portland, and local areas within just minutes of home. On a side note: we flew to Hawai'i and found the state bird there...the Nene.

Other than expensive cameras, the hobby is minimal in cost, and a challenge to find some "new" bird. My count is up to 215 different species since I began charting the many birds in our area.  114 different bird photos are now framed and hanging in our dining room that we now call our bird sanctuary.   The one bird that was a challenge for me and my piddly 'little' camera was the one bird that is rare in our midst! The Brown Booby. Since it's not a bird that was supposed to be in Texas, and it showed up in our bay, the two of us decided to charter a boat and ask the boat owner to take us out into the bay for a close up photo session...he got paid good, so he obliged. And I got close up photos of the booby that I would have never been able to get without a large zoom that I didn't have back then.

I've learned a lot; birding!!! The seasonal plumage colors of any bird can change almost over night. Knowing now, there are at least 35 known sparrow families in America. The calls/songs are becoming more recognizable to me now. Like so many people who 'flock' to San Juan's Mission for the return of the swallows, I look forward to the Largest Land Bird in America, the Whooping Crane, to return to Texas with their offspring each year.  The habitat ranges I pretty well know, so if a vagrant shows up in our area, I know it's rare. For instance, the glossy ibis vs the white faced ibis [near identical coloring, but the eye ring is the tell-tale, distinguishing mark for difference in the two, also it's a bit warmer in color, but not all that much when viewing them in separate instances.  During breeding season, the difference is the glossy ibis has a 'broken' eye ring] Or the Ani....there are two. Groove Billed and Smooth billed. One is found in Texas while the other is more in Florida...The Texan "Ani" is groove billed!!! Other than the bill, the too are identical. We have put up with hungry insects, extreme heat, been caught in surprise storms...and come into contact sometimes near noisy, ignorant. people [considering themselves birders, yet...] who don't realize in order to see/find a particular bird, silence is golden!! I've also met some great people who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise in the subject of birding. One thing tho, sadly, our Audubon Society here in my area leaves a lot to be desired...the Audubon Family here seem to be interested in few birds...but loving their get-togethers for pot lucks and little birding excursions like I would be interested in doing!!

SOMETIMES I TRY TO ZOOM IN Up Close and Personal...



Tri-colored Heron


Great Tailed Grackle
The Grackle family have a few different species, but all so very similar. The closest to the Great Tailed in features is the BOAT Tailed Grackle. The boat tailed, tho, has dark eyes instead of the pale yellow as the Great Tailed. The common grackle are smaller with a 'not so broad' beak!! They're ALL found throughout Texas.

A few of my favorites other than the Cardinal I've sighted - by thumbnail [enlarge if interested]:

Raptors/Fishers:
Osprey the Fisherman of birds also known as the Fish Eagle


Most colorful:
Painted Bunting [male]...the female is beautiful too with mostly brilliant lime green plumage


Oddest:
Roseate Spoonbill


Songster/songstress:
Tho the Texas State Bird, the mockingbird has such an array of calls, and a most beautiful sound, it's such a frequent visitor in our area, I would rather say my favorite song I hear would be from the:
The Common Loon


The rarest...all the way from Europe to Texas:
Bar Tailed Godwit
::spotted, photographed at Hans Suter Refuge in our city! Then again, later in the season at Cole Park in town::


Most challenging:
ANY WARBLER!! or
Chuck Will's Widow [highly elusive and VERY skittish!]


Water Bird:
[rare, not seen but on water usually]
Magnificent Frigatebird


Ugliest:
You'd probably suspect I'd say either of the two vultures seen in Texas. But no. It's the:
Wood Stork


...Spotting and photographing a 'new bird' is always exciting!  Several are still on my 'local' list to photograph; a couple would be the pileated woodpecker [reported seen at times near Victoria, Texas] and the Wood Duck! The ducks are in the Corpus Christi area, but I haven't found one yet!!  I've painted one tho, and framed the watercolor as I've sketched and painted other birds...you can find some on my sidebar, linked just under my easel in a drop down menu.  My next art project, which I've sketched on my watercolor pad, is the woodpecker mentioned.  Sometime soon I'll begin painting it.



67 comments :

  1. I didn't even know that there were that many different kinds of birds. 615 is a lot. You have become quite the bird expert. I did enlarge the picture of the wood stork and I agree, that is one ugly bird

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    1. ...yep. Only a mother stork could love a face like that, no?

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  2. I almost fainted when I enlarged the photo of the wood stork... it looks just like my great uncle Norbert!

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    1. Jacqueline....this comment cracked me up!!!!

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  3. Interesting to read of your bird history and that is a lot of birds.

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    1. ...hope you enjoyed it a bit Paula.

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  4. I spent my whole life never looking at birds. I have seen more birds on your post and on TexWisGirl than I have ever seen in real life. birds i did not even know existed. and your photos are wonderful and the fact you know their names. all over the world people post pics of birds and the ones in Africa are amazing. thanks for sharing your love of birds...

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    1. Oh yes....Africa AND Australia would be on my list to go birding for sure, for sure.

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  5. Hello Anni, all of your post show your love of birds. You have lived in some great areas that are known to be awesome birding spots. Texas is one of those awesome places, lucky you! Thanks for sharing your history, have a great day!

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  6. Though black, you have pictured the grackle so well.
    Beautiful.

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  7. Loved hearing so many interesting details about
    your life Anni! :)
    And your pictures are as beautiful as always :))
    Do love your painted Wood Duck and I'm looking
    forward to seeing the woodpecker :))

    Have a beautiful Sunday!
    Tinna ✐

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  8. you do live in a birding mecca, for certain. and that's wonderful.

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  9. I totally LOVE your zoom in of the heron. I have learned from your posts and pictures so much and am fortunate to have found your blog. If you were to come to Pennsylvania, you surely would see the pileated woodpecker. We have many living behind our home. They are loud! (And beautiful.)

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    1. Oh my, to have them in your 'back yard' near your home would have me so elated!!! Lucky you.

      thanks Ms. G, for such positive feedback. much appreciated.

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  10. You have really jumped into it! I love the idea of your bird sanctuary.

    I'm hoping for retirement that we can get to the Gulf Coast a lot more than we do. I am tired of cold winters.

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    1. ...as you know, it's a perfect area for wintering in Texas.

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  11. What a wonderful post with terrific captures, fascinating information, Anni!! Thank you so much for sharing!! I, too, love the idea of your bird sanctuary!! Such a great variety of birds you have in your area!! We don't have a wide variety of birds in the area where I live, but it's a busy "people" area!! I do have a liquid feeder for some lovely little hummingbirds and peanuts for some colorful blue jays though and I love to watch them!! They do chase the squirrels and steal their peanuts!! Hope you have a wonderful new week!! Enjoy!!

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    1. I'd love to see blue jays down this far south...but alas. They're so fun and funny with peanuts!!! Thanks Sylvia.

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  12. Hi Annie, You only have about 400 more sightings to go before you get to the TX total! To me, 215 sounds like a lot! I enjoyed reading about your lifelong interest in birds. Last night when I was watering with the hose, I spotted a beautiful bluebird - my first at the house. I was thrilled!

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    1. My sister, on the western slope, always informs me of when the bluebirds show up on her property too. They are thrilling!!!

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  13. Very interesting read. Once the birding bug bites it is sure to remain a passion for many years to come.

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    1. Hope you enjoyed my words today Ruth!! Yes, it is a passion...sometimes an obsession. lol

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  14. Anni this is a beautiful post!! Thank you for taking the time to put it together. It tells us so much about you!
    Hugs madi and cecilia

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    1. ...makes me happy to know you enjoyed the post a bit. I KNEW madi would love the birds. [insert wink]

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  15. Your pictures are, as always, great. But I really enjoyed learning so much about Texas birds today, more than just photos. Your number of bird species is really impressive! :-)

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    1. ...thanks, your kindness goes a long way D J

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  16. How very interesting to learn about your birding evolution! Your photos are always wonderful, Anni, and I so enjoy seeing your artworks too. Thanks for taking us on your journey!

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    1. ....birding evolution...I like the 'sound' of that in my head.

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  17. Well, Anni...what a fascinating post! I loved learning more about you, and learning the reasons for your fascination with birds. That walnut tree outside your window with the nesting cardinals, and the eagles that came later, Helped imprint the importance and magic of birds into your mind and heart! I love that you are so energetic in your pursuit of birds, and that you share such wonderful photos. Enjoyed seeing your "List." And your artwork is awesome! Great post!

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  18. Your photos are so pretty! I've mentioned to you before that our nursing home Dr is an avid birder. Since I spend a day each week with him, I hear a lot about it. He and his wife have traveled all over the world on birding trips. The last trip was to Cambodia. Very interesting!

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    1. I'm not sure I'd want to travel to Cambodia for birding, but Australia, parts of Africa and the South American/Central American countries would be grand!! Thanks Mari

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  19. What a wonder you are!! Thank you for sharing your love for birds with us - and I loved hearing more about YOU! I am a bird watcher but just in the most amatuer way. I do keep a bird journal and we keep our feeders full year round. Thanks to the birds, our mosquito problem isn't as bad as it COULD be!!

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    1. ....keeping track of the birds you see is a good way to know which is new and which is KNEW!

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  20. What a great looking Grackle.

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  21. Dear Anni. Your enthusiasm and passion for birding shines through. I picked out a few phrases and object lessons from your post which so sum up both your own and my approach to life/birding.

    "years of being landlocked, I wanted the vast open space and the salty air of nearby ocean"

    "we decided it was healthy to go birding"

    "Other than expensive cameras, the hobby is minimal in cost, and a challenge to find some "new" bird".

    "I've learned a lot; birding!!! "

    "in order to see/find a particular bird, silence is golden!! I've also met some great people who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise in the subject of birding."

    What great advice!!

    Yeah, those builders are still here and it's costing me an arm and a leg but a great place to shower after a day out birding. I'll try and post a picture - of the room, not me showering.

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    1. Rofl....
      And, all construction work is expensive...

      Thanks Phil, for stopping by for a visit. Your work with ringing birds would be one thing I'd like to experience....if not by banding them myself, just standing on the sideline watching would be a learning experience!!

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  22. My favorite are the last 2 shots ~ unique to me and wonderful photography!

    Happy week to you ~ Happy 4th of July in the USA
    artmusedog and carol

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  23. Wow. The color and exotic-ness of the spoonbill makes it my favorite.

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    1. I love watching them....and if you think this color is pretty....you should see them in breeding plumage.

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  24. Wonderful up close photos!

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    1. glad you enjoyed them Fiona

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  25. Loved to hear how you became interested in bird watching. Just shows how our childhood has a profound influence on our adulthood.

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    1. Yep, I often think of that cardinal family when I'm out birding...they all imprinted a memory that would probably be forgotten by most.

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  26. Spectacular photos (per usual!) We have a cardinal here, that I've managed to get a couple of mediocre shots of, but not what I was hoping for. Pretty sure he's taunting me, as he is perpetually "right there" when I am unarmed (sans camera), singing his bright red head off.

    I'll get him one of these days ;o)

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    1. I know just what you mean!!! They taunt us all too often!! Good luck.

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  27. Loved reading about how you became interested in birding. You show quite a few beautiful birds here . My favorite - the sinister-lookiing Grackle,

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    1. ...so glad to read that you enjoyed this post!!

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  28. I think a true birder is always engendered in their childhood. My Mother was a nature lover and she and my Dad would point out birds and explain where they lived and how the effected the environment (yes way back in the 40's and 50's, they were interested in the environment). We also learned about butterflies, some of which I never see anymore. They are gradually disappearing for one reason or another. You were blessed with a beautiful Cardinal who sparked your interest and then you never let it go until today you have all the joy of being able to spot, recognize, understand and appreciate the birds around you. The Whooper is one of my favorites. I have spent many weekend in Wisconsin at the Crane Foundation and where they are raising Whooping Cranes from eggs and teaching them to fly their migratory routes with a small, open airplane. It is wonderful to watch. The Pileated Woodpecker has alluded me as well, though I keep hearing stories that they are in the vicinity ... someday, I hope :) Enjoyed your story and your wonderful pictures. Always have a good time when I come to visit you ... Stay well, Anni

    Andrea @ From The Sp;

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    1. Andrea, you always brighten my day!!!

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  29. Oh Anni, thank you so much for this post. I think many of us can relate.
    My interest began at a young age when my grandmother, who we called Nanny, introduced me to cardinals and to call them.
    BTW her name was ... Annie ; )

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    1. Two Anni's....ironic. We BOTH began with the cardinal etched in our minds when birds are involved then, huh?

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  30. The grackle photo brought me here from Wild Bird Wednesday :)

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    1. ...glad you stopped by Andy

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  31. Boy that Balck tailed Crackle sure in my happy with you taking his photos, so angry looking but a great shot Anni.

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    1. ...it does seem a might grumpy at that, doesn't it?

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  32. Thank you for sharing how you came to enjoy birding and you know, it all comes back to this as well. For without birding as a passion and this land of blogging, we would have never met one another and all other blogging friends. I consider it an honor to know you and your shares always make me smile and I love the images you share. Thank you for visiting my little blog as well. You are always so very kind~

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    1. ...as are you sweet Mary. Thanks.

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  33. Fabulous post, Anni! I enjoyed learning more about you and your passion for birding! Always a pleasure to visit here, my friend.

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  34. Nice to get to know you a bit better as we both love birds but you really take the most wonderful photos and then provide interesting information... I love wood ducks.. I would love to be able to draw one, but it is not my talent....Michelle

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  35. How beautiful Blue Jays are!!! I've never seen these birds and also the poor Wood Stork before...
    It's wonderful that you archive all these birds, Anni!!!

    Enjoy happy summer days!
    Katrin:)

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