The Secret Life of Birds

From the Hudson Valley to Australia

June 3, 2021 by

Mulga Parrot – Queensland
The mulga parrot is one of many elusive species found deep in the Australian outback. On a business trip to Queensland, I visited a wildlife refuge in hopes of seeing some of these singular birds. I couldn’t believe my luck when one landed nearby. This is a female; her colors are more subtle than the flamboyant male’s.

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Common Loon – Adirondacks
I was paddling my canoe across an Adirondack lake when I was joined by a family of common loons. The mother dove for small fish and other delectables, dropping them down the open beak of the waiting baby. They kept even with my canoe, sometimes even swimming right under the boat. When they glided into the shadows under some trees, one gave me a chance for a picture that highlights the beauty of its feathers.

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Golden Whistler – Elsmore, New South Wales

You can hear the golden whistler’s song in our east Australian woodlands. Last year, I was passing a house just as a whistler flew into a window, stunning itself momentarily. I lifted it gently off the ground, and, as it began to stir, placed it on a nearby branch, waiting till its small claws took hold. I stepped back and snapped the photo. Within a few minutes, it dashed off.

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Osprey – Esopus Meadows
It’s breathtaking to watch an osprey fold its wings and plummet into the water at speeds of up to eighty miles an hour, then struggle back into the air with a fish writhing in its talons. Esopus Meadows, a small park along the banks of the Hudson River, is a favorite hunting spot for these dive-bombers. In the light of an early August morning, this one took off directly overhead.

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Red-headed Woodpecker – Plutarch Swamp

A few swamps in the mid-Hudson Valley are known locally for their population of red-headed woodpeckers. I climbed a small tree on a swamp edge and opened a view through some branches. Then – I waited. Five or six of the birds flew around, calling in high-pitched screeches as they collected bugs and moths. But no luck. Just as I was about to leave, one landed only twenty-five feet away. It perched for a total of two seconds. Click! Sometimes three hours of patience are rewarded.

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Rufus Wareham is a photographer and avid birdwatcher who lives in Danthonia Bruderhof, Australia. Comments

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