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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tufted Titmouse

I saw this tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor, in Central Park on one of those spring-like days last week. Cute, right? It was picking up seeds someone had left on the ground. Click to enlarge. 

The bird preferentially selected sunflower seeds, like the one it's holding in this picture. How to open a sunflower seed if you're a titmouse? The same way a blue jay does it: fly away to a branch, hold the nut in both feet  and jab it with your beak until it breaks. 
Oh. And don't stop too long to watch the photographer. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Happy Washington's Birthday!

Just a gull sitting in a sun-warmed footprint in the sand on the beach at Coney Island in Brooklyn. Like us humans, the birds seemed to be enjoying the unseasonably warm weekend. Click to enlarge. 
Enjoy the holiday! 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Parti-colored Starling

Only kidding. It's so cold and rainy outside that I spent most of it sitting in a comfortable chair playing games and some of it creating imaginary birds with Photoshop from my archive of bird images. Click to enlarge. 
Here's another. I call it a green-belted hawk. 
How about a pink-winged mockingbird? 
Or a blue-breasted robin. Had enough? Here's a bird poem instead. 

A Bird Came Down the Walk 
by Emily Dikinson

A bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw; 
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.

And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad,- 
They looked like frightened beads, I thought; 
He stirred his velvet head

Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home

Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
Leap, splashless, as they swim.


And this is what the birds above really look like: 

European Starling -- Sturnus vulgaris

Red-tailed hawk -- Buteo jamaicensis
Northern Mockingbird -- Mimus polyglottos
American Robin -- Turdus migratorius

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Duck Brush

Freezing temperatures and a head cold have kept me indoors for a few days. I spent some of that time learning how to make a Photoshop tool called a brush. I started with this photo of a mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) that I took on a warm autumn day at the Prospect Park Zoo last year. 
The Photoshop steps are simple: open the jpg in Photoshop and select Layer Style from the Layer pull down menu. Select Blending Options and use the slider to remove the background, then delete any bits of background that remain with the eraser tool. Before making it a brush, reduce the size with Image Size option on the Image pull down menu. Then select Define Brush Preset from the Edit pull down menu. Voila! A duck brush is born. I'm using Photoshop CS5. 
Once it is in your brush library you can paint with it. To produce two shadowy ducks on black, for instance. Click to enlarge. 
Or pick a color and dab a few rows of ducks. 
Overlay it with a pattern. 
Paint it a warm brown and add some marsh grass. 
Put a few on a colorful background. Or anything else you can think of.  I am looking forward to warmer weather when I can go outside and watch real ducks.