Green Heron.  These attractive small heron are surprisingly well camouflaged given their striking greens and browns.  When perched near the waters edge waiting for fish to swim under them they can be quite difficult to spot.  

Green Herons are clever fish-predators as well.  They often attract fish by “baiting” them with small scraps of food or other attractants to get prey within easy striking distance.  Globally, only a few species of birds have been documented using tools; Green Heron are one of them!

Anna’s Hummingbird.  The most common hummingbird along the pacific coast.  Although it wasn’t until the last one-hundred years or so that Anna’s were found north of Baja California.  As people introduced exotic flowering plants that produced nectar, Anna’s Hummingbirds were able to extend their range northwards all the way into Canada.

According to allaboutbirds.org Anna’s maintain a core body temperature of 107 degrees fahrenheit.  However, they do not migrate (unlike most other species of hummingbird that head south for the winter), so when outdoor temperatures drop Anna’s enter a state of torpor.  This restless form of physiological hibernation causes the birds to lower their breathing and heart rate dramatically as their core body temperature drops to as low as 48 degrees fahrenheit; more then half their waking body temperature!

Cliff Swallow.  While these small ariel insectivores do nest on steep cliffs (as their name implies), they often build their nests on manmade structures, such as this outhouse in Yellowstone National Park.  Often you’ll see large groups of Cliff Swallow nests (sometimes 1,000 or more nests in a colony) owing to their highly social behavior.  They build their nests out of mud.  

Cliff Swallows are quite similar in appearance to Barn Swallows, but there are some obvious differences that make field identification less challenging.  Cliff swallows have a white forehead and a short square tail.  Barn Swallows have orange foreheads and long, deeply forked tails making them easy to differentiate in flight.  Additionally, Cliff Swallows are pale underwing where as Barn Swallows are more buffy orange from below.  

Pileated Woodpecker.  I had a very close encounter with this bird at Carkeek Park in Seattle recently.  It flew in just a few feet from me and landed on a snag only eight feet away.  Pileated’s are impressive birds, approaching 20” in length and 30” in wingspan.  Size is the easiest way to identify these birds, but the bright red crest and predominantly black body are also characteristic.

Pileated’s excavate rectangular holes in trees when searching for carpenter ants and other grubs.  These holes provide critical habitat to smaller cavity nesting birds that use them for feeding and nesting.

While visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia we saw many Long-tailed Macaques.  I wasn’t eager to get too close to them, but I was able to get some nice photos.  This particular Macaque had just stolen fruit from a nearby vendor and was pleasantly distracted by his meal to allow me to take some pictures.  
I would advise other travelers not to feed or touch the Macaques if they visit Southeast Asia.  Just as feeding wildlife is discouraged here, the same goes there.  When people feed the Macaques it teaches them bad habits and encourages them to be aggressive and fearless around people.  As we know, “a fed bear is a dead bear” and I think the same goes for Macaques. So please refrain from this bad behavior and enjoy the wildlife from a safe distance.  

While visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia we saw many Long-tailed Macaques.  I wasn’t eager to get too close to them, but I was able to get some nice photos.  This particular Macaque had just stolen fruit from a nearby vendor and was pleasantly distracted by his meal to allow me to take some pictures.  

I would advise other travelers not to feed or touch the Macaques if they visit Southeast Asia.  Just as feeding wildlife is discouraged here, the same goes there.  When people feed the Macaques it teaches them bad habits and encourages them to be aggressive and fearless around people.  As we know, “a fed bear is a dead bear” and I think the same goes for Macaques. So please refrain from this bad behavior and enjoy the wildlife from a safe distance.  

Woolly-necked Stork.  We ran across this impressive stork while hiking near the village of Chi Phat in Southern Cambodia.  It appeared slightly larger than a Great Blue Heron, but had the same profile in flight with its legs straight back and neck curved in.  It was a real nice bird to see despite the pouring rain.  They appear to be quite common throughout Asia, India, and even parts of Africa.  
The Woolly-necked Stork’s diet consists mainly of amphibians, reptiles, large insects, and small fish.  Their primary habitat is wetlands with ample trees that they use for breeding and nesting. 

Woolly-necked Stork.  We ran across this impressive stork while hiking near the village of Chi Phat in Southern Cambodia.  It appeared slightly larger than a Great Blue Heron, but had the same profile in flight with its legs straight back and neck curved in.  It was a real nice bird to see despite the pouring rain.  They appear to be quite common throughout Asia, India, and even parts of Africa.  

The Woolly-necked Stork’s diet consists mainly of amphibians, reptiles, large insects, and small fish.  Their primary habitat is wetlands with ample trees that they use for breeding and nesting. 

I noticed this Collard Kingfisher by its loud chattering call, quite similar to our Belted Kingfisher but not quite as harsh.  These photos don’t do justice to the bright blue plumage of this bird.  We were lucky as it perched on a branch for almost an hour right in front of our porch in Krabi, Thailand.

While on vacation in southern Thailand these two large Water Monitors walked right in front of our hotel room.  Water Monitors are a type of lizard that can grow to over six feet in length.  The two I saw were probably only four feet or less, but they were still impressive.  They are quite capable on land, but even more impressive in water.  As carnivores they hunt rodents, birds, and all matter of aquatic prey.

I watched this Pacific Reef Heron stalking prey on a beach in Krabi, Thailand.  These birds are similar in size to our Little Blue Heron.  I found them to be quite common along the beaches of southern Thailand.

Tags: birds

On a recent trip to Southeast Asia we visited a large colony of fruit bats in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  These fruit bats, also known as flying foxes, are among the largest bats in the world. They are fascinating, noisy creatures, with wingspans approaching four feet!

On a recent trip to Southeast Asia we visited a large colony of fruit bats in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  These fruit bats, also known as flying foxes, are among the largest bats in the world. They are fascinating, noisy creatures, with wingspans approaching four feet!

American White Pelican.  I saw a few of these birds visiting Grand Teton National Park earlier this summer.  Their huge orange bills are very impressive, but the best way to view these birds is in flight.  They have a massive wingspan and out-of-this-world silhouette.  

American White Pelican.  I saw a few of these birds visiting Grand Teton National Park earlier this summer.  Their huge orange bills are very impressive, but the best way to view these birds is in flight.  They have a massive wingspan and out-of-this-world silhouette.  

Dickcissel, one of the cooler bird names.  These birds can be found in the prairie grasslands.  Although somewhat similar to meadowlarks with the yellow throat and black V, dickcissels are much smaller and their beak is more finch or sparrow like than the long narrow beak of a meadowlark.

Dickcissel, one of the cooler bird names.  These birds can be found in the prairie grasslands.  Although somewhat similar to meadowlarks with the yellow throat and black V, dickcissels are much smaller and their beak is more finch or sparrow like than the long narrow beak of a meadowlark.

I was lucky enough to catch some white-crowned sparrows migrating north through South Dakota earlier this summer.  However, here in Seattle they’re pretty common year round.  Their song reminds me a little bit of a song sparrow that coughs/chokes halfway through.

The best thing about finding a prairie dog town is that you might also find some Burrowing Owls.  While these owls are capable of digging their own burrows they often nest in abandoned prairie dog holes.  We were lucky enough to spot two burrowing owls at a prairie dog town in South Dakota.  Notice the second owl in the burrow with only it’s eyes visible through the grass.  Burrowing owls eat insects and small mammals, but they also collect bison dung and use it as bait to catch dung beetles.  

Badlands National Park in South Dakota is an amazing place.  The geologic formations are breathtaking, but the wildlife is great too.  Scattered throughout the park are many prairie dog “towns”, where these highly social animals burrow tunnels under the prairies.  They’re fun to watch, especially when a predator is spotted in the distance.  The colony went into high alert when a coyote came in to check them out.  All the prairie dogs started barking, whistling, and standing up on their back legs to alert the town of the threat.