Category Archives: Beyond Bounds

On The Front Porch

Resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica (photo by Francesco Veronesi via Wikimedia Commons)
Resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica (photo by Francesco Veronesi via Wikimedia Commons)

8 December 2023

If you live in Central America you may find this bird on your front porch.

Happy Friday!

Favorites of 2022

Baltimore oriole, 2022 (photo by Steve Gosser)

6 January 2023

Photographers often look back at the end of the year and choose their favorite photos. On this first Friday in January sit back and enjoy 2022 favorites from Steve Gosser and Brad Balliet @BalliettBrad.

Steve Gosser lives in Pittsburgh so I sometimes see the exact same birds he does but they never look as good as his photos, two of which are pictured here.

Marsh wren doing a split, 2022 (photo by Steve Gosser)

Steve packed 38 photos into his 2022 favorites on Facebook.

Brad Balliett of New York put together a 2+ minute video on Twitter.

I’m looking forward to favorites in 2023.

(photos by Steve Gosser, tweet by Brad Balliett; click on the captions to see the originals)

Hover and Perch

Pied kingfisher, composite of one diving (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), native to Africa and Asia, is nearly as big as our belted kingfisher but he has a unique trait. He’s the largest bird able to hover in place without help from the wind.

The image above is a composite of three photos: a single pied kingfisher diving for the water. The video below (which is missing audio in the middle) shows a parent hovering and his daughter working on her dive.

When pied kingfishers aren’t hovering they hunt from a perch.

Two pied kingfishers watching for fish (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Sometimes the perch can swim.

Pied kingfisher perched on a hippopotamus (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

(photos from Wikimedia Commons; video from Love Nature on YouTube)

Like A Painting

Catching a fly (photo by Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith via Flickr Creative Commons license)

This portrait of an African paradise flycatcher looks almost like a painting. Photographer Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith describes how he captured it:

Followed this male around the Tshokwane picnic area in Kruger National Park looking for the right setting. The fly it was about to consume was just luck, but the background took a bit for the bird to get there.

The bird’s pose is a beautiful arc.

(photo by Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith on Flickr, Creative Commons license)


Moon and Jupiter reflected on Brofjorden, Sweden (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

When the moon is bright, the sky is clear, and the wind is calm the moon’s reflection makes a path on the water.

In Sweden where this photo was taken the word for the moon’s path is mångata or “moon street.”

In English we have a name for it, though the word is rarely used: Moonglade.

(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)

At The Hot Springs

Male crested kingfisher in 2009, Hokkaido, Japan (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

1 February 2020

Kingfishers migrate in the fall to find open water where they can fish. This stunning bird lives year-round at the hot springs in the Kitami Hills of Hokkaido, Japan because the water doesn’t freeze.

Almost the size of a crow, the crested kingfisher (Megaceryle lugubris), is native to southern Asia from India to Japan.

Read more about him and see a photo of his mate here –> Crested kingfisher.

(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)

Ponds On The Ocean

Ponds on the Arctic Ocean (photo by NASA’s Kathryn Hanson via Wikimedia Commons)

Ice and snow are returning this weekend in Pittsburgh but they won’t look like this.

In July 2011 two men walked between the melt ponds on top of the ice on the Arctic Ocean. The patterns and texture resemble flocked fabric. Click here to see a fabric sample.

When the ice breaks the freshwater ponds will fall into the sea. Fortunately the two men will be back on their boat before that happens.

Find out why they’re there in the photo description at this link.

(photo from NASA via Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)

Happy New Year!

Augur buzzard (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

May your new year be filled with beautiful birds!

This beauty looks like a red-tailed hawk but he’s from Africa. His tail is red but he doesn’t have the telltale “belly band” of dashes on his chest.

This is an augur buzzard (Buteo augur) from Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Click on the photo caption to see the original featured photo on Wikimedia Commons.

p.s. Augur buzzards have charcoal gray backs and very hooked beaks, but you can’t see those features in this photo.

(featured photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Who’s On The Wire?

Bird on a wire at Carrizo Plain, CA (photo from BLM via Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s a bird you won’t see in Pennsylvania.  He was photographed at Carrizo Plain National Monument, 100 miles (as the crow flies) northwest of Los Angeles, California.

Quiz:  Who is this on the wire? … Notice his long legs.

(photo by Bob Wick, BLM via Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)

Open Wide!

Wire-tailed swallow bringing food to juvenile (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

This beautiful swallow, native to sub-Saharan Africa and southern and southeast Asia, is very similar to our barn swallow except for its two wire-like tail feathers and its preference to live near water.

The wire-tailed swallow’s (Hirundo smithii) family life is similar, too.  When the fledglings beg for food, the parents deliver it on the wing.

Open wide!

Wire-tailed swallow delivering food to young (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

(photos by Manojiritty on Wikimedia Commons; click on the captions to see the originals)