Hello! Most of my posts take place around San Diego County, (Mostly Lake Murray) unless otherwise noted.
For more posts and photos, I also post on Hubpages, a site that is a bit different than others. Thanks!: Shorebirdie on Hubpages

Monday, June 27, 2011

More ducks and killdeers

I wanted to post some random photos of ducks and killdeer, today. These photos were mostly taken over the last week. Plus, I have some other birds, too, such as the juvenile blue heron.

First, ducks:

Peaches' ducklings are doing great and 6 of the 7 are still together. I think I saw the other one (a male) and one of his cousins from Caramel's family over where the big drakes hang out. Most of the ducklings from the two families are between 8.5 and 9.5 weeks old, which is old enough to be on their own. However, their moms have tight control over most them.


Also, a new family of wood ducks:

The bossy ducklings are still around, but are shy of me:

And, more tiny ducklings being hatched:

I haven't seen Poquito and Ducky's ducklings in a long time.

And, here's a coot thrown in for good measure. The kissing coot couple had at least two babies so far. Here's mom feeding one of them:

And, the killdeer are doing great. Though I haven't seen Miracle, I did hear her peeping in the brush while her mom and uncles were in the ballfields, eating. Here's a photo of two:

A young killdeer in Junior's territory

This is either Squiggy or Pollux

Also, as a side note, 3 little killdeer chicks were spotted at the Bonita Valley Christian Center this weekend. Last report is that they're doing well. Hopefully, photos will follow.

This morning, I saw the 2nd juvenile blue heron trying to fish on his own. I don't think he quite got it and went back out to find his parents again.

RIP Pidjee:

One day, though, I walked up on Big Mama Cooper's hawk in the process of killing a pigeon. The bird was still alive, screamed and tried to fly away when I spooked the hawk, accidentally. When I looked at it, I saw that it's keel had burst through the breast muscle, probably from the hawk crushing it. Also, one of it's legs was permanently damaged. He was too far hurt for me to help him. So, I put him in a brushy area so that he could have a peaceful minute or two and perhaps gain enough mind to escape if he could. I don't think he did, though. When I came back, he was gone with no sign of him at all. I think the hawk came back for him after I left. But, there is a slim hope that he found a way to escape.

The following pigeon photo may be considered morbid by some people, but I wanted to photograph him while he was still alive and intact so that everyone can remember him after he's gone. I know that's strange way to feel about a pigeon, but I feel that he needed to be remembered, especially because he was one of the friendly ones and fun to watch. I never named him (or her), though:

Because that pigeon died, Dee the killdeer could feed in that area in peace that day:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shy's "Miracle" chick

Today, I was delighted to see that Shy and her mate had a cute three week old chick in tow. I thought I also heard at least one, possibly two hiding in the brush. Last April, they had lost a set of four eggs. I had no idea that they had a nest, probably starting in the beginning of May. But, today, she was seen with a little fuzzy almost grown female.

Now, here's the problem. I didn't notice it at first, but this chick is missing half of it's skull. It appears that her brains are partially hanging out in the back at the top of the neck. I think there is skin covering it, though. It' amazing that she's lived this long with this issue. I've named her Miracle because it's a miracle that she's made it to almost adulthood.

Dad and mom let me get real close to get some photos, but I couldn't get a good one of the back of her head. The chick was eating normally, running around, playing and keeping warm under her dad. The Cooper's hawk tried to get her a couple of times, but mom or dad jumped out to distract it. She seems to be unafraid of anything and I'm wondering about her eyesight, though she seems to be able to see the bugs she wants to eat. I think Shy and her mate suspect something's wrong with her. Here's a photo of her trying to get through the fence so that she can eat bugs on the other side.


After looking at all the photos, it appears that only the skin/feathers of Miracle's head were affected. It almost looks like the skin couldn't keep up with the growth of the head. It appears that only the outer layers of the skin were affected. The head shape actually looks reasonably normal. The family does have a history of crests and problems with their head feathers. She does have some problems with her peripheral vision due to a skin flap near her eyes. It is still unknown how long she can survive with the problem or if it will correct itself. It's likely that she's had this for at least a few days up to about a week.

In ducklings news, Poquito (Pip and Peeper's brother) is missing. Last I saw him, he was being fed by two men at the lake. I hope he wasn't taken. Pip and Peeper, by the way, are expected to be released from Project Wildlife soon, perhaps this week.

A few days ago, the family of six ducklings in Cowles' Bay seemed to be down to three. But, it's possible that the three I saw here duckling-napped by another female. I found these two females fighting over the three ducklings in the photo above. The ducklings followed both females. I haven't seen either female or any ducklings since.

Today, I saw the "bossy" ducklings:

And, Ducky's ducklings were seen, too. However, I don't think one of them is Ducky's. It looks like a gadwall or maybe even a wood duck a little bit.

The boat dock ducklings are down to six, but no worries. One just likes to go off by herself now and then. I haven't been able to get a good photo of them, lately. They're over 8 weeks old now and almost had their flight feathers when I last saw them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pip and Peeper taken to Project Wildlife

Pip (right) and Peeper (left)

Yesterday, I saw two young ducklings all by themselves. I think that they're the missing "parking lot" ducklings. I don't know where they've been all this time, but they were alone when I saw them. Their real mom was nearby with Poquito, the third duckling. But, mom was only keeping the one duckling warm and ignoring the other two. But, they didn't seem distressed, so I let them be.

This morning, they were still in the same place they were yesterday, but I went for my walk and came back a couple of hours later. They seemed very lethargic in the morning, but all the ducks were that day, so I didn't think anything was wrong. But, when I approached them, one moved away fast, but the other could hardly move and fell flat down. So, I grabbed him and got a box. But, I couldn't catch Pip, the second one, so I let him go as I wasn't going to take one and not the other.

Pip watches over his lethargic brother, Peeper

I did see them both eat and drink and act healthy after I let Peeper go, though I could tell that Peeper couldn't keep up with energetic Pip. A coot came by and attacked Peeper pretty bad and he couldn't get away. Then, all the other ducks started attacking them, including their mom and Poquito, their brother. Someone else came by later and helped me catch both and I took them to Project Wildlife. I sure hope I did the right thing as the lady at the desk seemed upset about me bringing them in. Peeper just seemed really lethargic and hardly moved while his friend, Pip, comforted him the whole time with cute baby duck babble.

I hated taking them in as I don't know what Project Wildlife is going to do with them. The person helping me seemed to be upset at me for bringing them in. I hope they just don't go right out and release them tomorrow or within a few days. Also, I would love to know what was wrong with Peeper. I'm hoping it's just a little hypothermia or malnutrition and nothing serious.

All three ducklings are between three and four weeks old. I am strongly suspicious that they turned up like this all of a sudden. They were acting like dumped ducks. I suspect they may have been stolen and returned to the lake.

Poquito is doing fine as are Ducky's ducklings and all the other ducklings at the lake. The older ones, such as the three sister's families are starting to wander away on their own.


I saw the new ducklings in Cowles Bay today, down to six, feeding on algae in the drainage ditch:

D. and Killer have chicks:

Yesterday, I saw D. and Killer take their 5 to 6 week old chicks out to the feeding area. Both were male. Today, both of them were in the ballfields with three of the four older M6 male chicks, playing. I am not sure if Killer and D. had more chicks other than the two males.

And, of course, here is another shot of the roof killdeer. I thought he was George's grandson, but it's possible that it could be Spike, though I am not sure. He sure does look familiar. There are rocks on this slanted roof and I'm not sure if there's a flat spot where there could be a nest, but it's possible.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ducklings almost grown up

I thought I would post a few photos and not so much writing. The ducklings are growing up. They're reaching the age that they will soon be on their own. Already, I've seen ducklings their age off by themselves.

Peaches' ducklings:

I think this is the "gray" duckling

Pepper, saying "Hi"

One of Caramel's ducklings is already independent and hanging around Quacker, the female Cayuga:

The two older ducklings that were part of the group stolen from their original mom. The two Chinese ganders had been bossing them around, awaking them from their nap:

Three ducklings that I mistook for Ducky's ducklings. The third one was out of range of the camera:

The lone parking lot duckling relaxing. Then, a kid came by and chased all the ducks away and started to chase down the duckling, but his dad stopped him. I hope he was able to relax for the rest of the day with no problems.

And, some new ducklings I saw in Cowles Bay (Lake Murray). I saw three more in other places at the lake.

Cinnamon looks ragged from her boyfriends mating with her, but it looks like her feathers are starting to come back on her neck:

And, a female wood duck without her ducklings who would be just about old enough to start becoming independent, I think. I have a feeling that they were nearby, hiding:

And, now for the killdeer. I think I saw the M6 mom and Squiggy, Castor and Spike, but it's hard to identify them. The one that I thought was Spike could also be Shy's mate. He was off by himself.

Squiggy and mom (front)

Spike or Shy's mate, trying to hide from me

I saw this cool pigeon at the lake, too:

Back at home, I saw this raggedy black phoebe trying to use our pool for a bath. He behaved exactly like the black phoebe I usually see, except he was really fuzzy and had no tail. Perhaps he's a fledgling.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Duckling's bill gets hung up on a fishing hook

The first thing I saw this morning was one of the older ducklings struggling with a fishing hook on a line that was snagged on a stick sticking out of the water at Lake Murray. At first, I thought that maybe a couple of ducks were fighting over a bug on the stick, but it was actually Caramel trying to free her baby. Apparently, the shiny lure attracted the duckling to nip at it, but she got caught and couldn't get away. All the other ducks in the area came to her rescue, including all the females with other ducklings. Thing is, there was a man sitting right there, saw what was happening, and did nothing!

I went into the water, waist deep and with clothes on, and got the fish hook out of the duckling's mouth. I didn't have anything to cut the barb off the hook, so I had to pull it back through the bill the way it came. It must have hurt and it was bleeding a little. Caramel talked to her baby while I was doing this. I was more concerned about getting the duckling back to her mom and getting out of the water that I didn't check on what the damage to the bill was. But, I think I saw the duckling a few hours later and the damage was unnoticeable to the naked eye. I could see a little blister on the bill in a photo I took, though. But, it looked like the bill had started to heal already. Either that or I had the wrong duckling in the photo. Here is the photo of the duckling that I think I saved:

I also saw that Butterscotch still had three ducklings of her own (down from 14, but many were stolen by other females). Here are two of them:

Pepper and his six siblings were all doing great, here's a photo of a few of them:

There was a group of kids there and they all seemed to love the little guys.

Ducky's ducklings are fine, too. Here is one of them:

And, the last parking lot duckling is looking scruffy:

I also saw four other ducklings that were about two to three weeks old, but didn't get photos of them. Also, one of the "stolen" ducklings from last April was eating out of someone's hand! Absolutely adorable.

And, look who I saw today! SIR FRANCIS DRAKE! If anyone remembers, he was the duck that had fishing line hung up around his leg for a year before someone could catch him. His leg was permanently damaged, but it's gotten better over the last year:


Shy and her mate still continue to mob and follow me around and now the chicks have picked up their habits. Squiggy was doing mobbing calls along with the best of them. Castor was hanging out with Shy somewhere else, but seemed unworried about me compared to his sister.

I also found a killdeer that liked to hang around on a gabled roof!

This is a house with many birdhouses and feeders, though I think the owners temporarily took the bird feeders down because the Cooper's hawks have been hanging around too much. It appears that this killdeer (which, I think, is Mary's son and George's grandson) was purposely tormenting Big Mama Cooper, the Cooper's hawk (she's a very experienced shorebird hunter, too, so the killdeer was very gutsy). He was flying to the roof and then when the hawk came by, would fly down to the water where another killdeer was. Then, he would fly back, start calling, and when the hawk came back, fly off again.

The second time I passed by, he had flown to the roof and the hawk was coming back towards him. A very unfortunate blackbird was flying into the area while the hawk was heading back to the house and the hawk went after him. Though I couldn't see it, I think the hawk got the blackbird just out of view. Hopefully, there wasn't a second killdeer up there that she got instead.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The herons fledge, the male killdeer chicks leave

It looks like both heron chicks have fledged for good. I saw this one yesterday and when he got nervous, he flew back to the nest. But, today, there was no sign of life in the nest at all. I did see at least one heron still in the area, though.

The killdeer chicks and their parents have begun to go somewhere else other than the ballfield. Yesterday, Spike was in one ballfield and Squiggy was with his mom and dad. Castor and Pollux were not seen.


Today, Pollux was in a field next to Shy and her boyfriend who were beginning to mate and get serious about nesting again. He didn't get upset about me taking his photo.


Peaches' ducklings are all still together. In fact, most of the ducklings are staying longer with their siblings and/or parents this year. Last year, they went off on their own by the time they were five weeks old. The ducklings have most of their feathers except for their fuzzy butts. In a couple of weeks, they will have their flight feathers.

Pepper looks like all the rest of the ducklings except for his black head. I wonder what his adult feathers will be like. Hopefully, we shall find out in a couple of months.

More duckling photos:

The parking lot ducklings (the last one of four):

Ducky's ducklings:

Those ducklings are very aggressive!

And, finally, these two killdeers were flirting. I think it's Junior and his mate. He just loves his girlfriend and can't stop flirting with her.