Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fledglings in Seattle, Gulls in New Jersey

The beautiful summer weather that we had over the Fourth of July weekend has given way again to the cool, cloudy days we've been accustomed to this spring.  The yard is quiet, not much going on.  The dogs are restless and not happy about being inside.  I've been spending too much time at the computer and not enough time outdoors.

Hose Sparrow fledgling.  His gape flanges are still visible at the corners of his beak
But the big excitement continues to be fledglings.  Day before yesterday there was a loud, insistent chirping in the cherry tree outside.  (The cherries are starting to ripen, and when that happens we'll have all kinds of excitement around here for a couple of weeks.)  It sounded almost like the demanding voices of baby birds in the nest.  Working at a wildlife rehabilitation center, where the baby birds have to be fed constantly throughout the day, I've learned to recognize that sound.  But I was pretty certain there was no nest in the cherry tree.  It took me a long time, moving around on the deck and in the yard, to actually see the guys who were causing all the commotion.

House Sparrow fledglings in the cherry tree.
This is the second batch of fledgling House Sparrows that I've seen.  If you remember, about a week ago, I posted a picture of a slightly older HS.  These guys are even younger.  According to my naturalist friend, Kevin, if you look closely you can still see the yellowish "gape flanges" at the corners of their mouths.  The fellow I photographed before didn't have any remaining gape flanges.  So far this year the House Sparrows are by far the most prolific (or at least the most obvious) breeders around.

Slightly older House Sparrows form the week before.
Summer is also the time baseball heats up.  This year the Seattle Mariners are up and down, but they're managing to hang in the division race, which is a lot more than any of us expected.  I love baseball.  Safeco Field, which is the Mariners' home, opened in 2001 (the season the Mariner's set an American League record for most games won and Barry Bonds broke the single season home run record) and there is really nowhere better to be on a beautiful summer day in Seattle.  It's a beautiful park, and there is literally not a bad seat in the place.

Seagull impatiently waiting for the crowd to leave at Safeco Field.
Seagulls love baseball too.  Or at least, seagulls love Safeco Field.  I guess they aren't really interested in the game, though, because they usually don't start showing up until about the eighth inning.  They seem to have some sense of how long the game lasts, or else they're picking up on other clues, like fans starting to sneak out early to beat the traffic.  I would imagine that once the people are gone the gulls have quite a feast on spilled and discarded food.

Ichiro in Yankee Stadium, May 2008.  The Mariners got pounded.
Laughing Gull, Atlantic City, NJ.  May 2008
Back in 2008 (the last hurrah before the bottom fell out of the economy and my business) I took a trip back east to see the Mariners play at Yankee Stadium.  That was the last season the Yankees played in the old stadium -- the House That Ruth Built -- and the baseball lover in me couldn't stand to let them tear it down without seeing it once, in person.  I saw one game of the last series the Mariners ever played in that stadium in May of 2008.  The Yankees creamed them by the way.  Since I had to fly back -- and since it costs a fortune to stay in New York City (see how good I am at rationalizations?) I decided to spend a few days in Atlantic City, rent a hotel room there, and then drive up to New York to see the game.  It worked out like that (more or less -- I wasn't really prepared for driving in the Bronx).  I spent four days in Atlantic City, playing poker at night and hanging out on the Boardwalk in the day time. 


It turns out that the Boardwalk is home to a lot of seagulls -- mostly Laughing Gulls, which are different in several ways with the gulls we're familiar with here in Seattle. 

I spent more time photographing gulls, pigeons and the semi-feral boardwalk cats than I did at the casinos, which is good because as much as I love poker, I lost every game I played there.

If you like Birdland West, you might also want to check out our sister blog Books and Beasts, which focuses on reviews of books about animals and related topics.

(Many of the original photographs featured on Birdland West are available for sale as art quality prints.  You can check out all of our offerings at http://AlexWashoe.imagekind.com.  If you see an image here that does not show up on our Imagekind site please contact me directly and I'll let you know about availability.)

1 comment:

  1. i tuned in for the NJ gulls ; )
    I believe we have several kinds of gulls along the NJ Coast - i will try to pay better attention when i visit in a few weeks
    ; ) w