When I posted a picture of this pitiful-looking bluejay on my daily photo site, some viewers expressed sympathy for him and his (normal, but sickly-looking) appearance. Molting, the process that causes some birds to lose their old, worn out feathers and get new ones, does leave the poor bird looking pretty sad for a short time.
Molting, sometimes called shedding, is a process in which an animal routinely casts off a part of its body, either at specific times of the year, or at specific points in its life cycle.
For some of us, who photograph birds, a bird like this bluejay may look alarming in the advanced stages of the molting process; however, it is a natural process that occurs regularly (often seasonally) in bird and other animals. Many pet owners, for example, will be aware of shedding when they must clean their dog’s or cat’s hair off the sofa or vacuum it from the floor. Shedding is a form of molting. Chickens are another example of animals that molt, which I knew, but I didn’t know they often stop laying eggs until their new feathers grow in. Another interesting fact I discovered is that salamanders and frogs shed their skin, and then often eat it. These are just a few examples of molting. Students of biology and people who regularly work with animals in the course of their daily jobs would probably take our bluejay’s scraggly appearance for granted, knowing it is caused by a normal process, but I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Now that I know (a little), I thought I would share what I learned with the rest of you.
Thanks for reading this far. If you have anything to add to this rudimentary information, please join in the conversation by adding a comment below.
Despite the intense heat and humidity of the past week, the birds at the “backyard buffet” know the time has come to change into their winter wardrobes. I think the duller goldfinch (top) is a female because her coat is more subdued all year round, whereas the male goldfinch has a bright yellow coat with black trim during the summer months and gradually loses his bold colors as autumn approaches. (If you don’t agree with the identification, please leave a comment to share your information with the rest of us.) The sorrowful-looking bluejay, pictured on the right, usually so proud of his snazzy coat with the royal blue feathers, is going through the process called molting (or moulting) as he changes from his summer to winter garb. It’s normal and happens every year, so don’t feel too sorry for him. His appearance will soon improve, but meanwhile he is probably the scruffiest-looking bird in the neighborhood. It’s a blessing he can’t see himself in a mirror.
Cooler weather is coming soon, maybe by tomorrow afternoon, according to the forecast. I’m breathing a sign of relief and looking forward to hitting the trail for a real photowalk. I hope you will be here to go with me. Thanks for visiting today. Come back soon.
Carolyn aka Skip
PS: It was so hot today I took all these pictures from inside, looking through the window.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been participating in a photo project originated by another photographer on Blipfoto.com. She was motivated by a book published in the early 80s entitled Blue Moon over Thurman Street, a collections of photos and related poems by Ursula LeGuin and Roger Dorband. As a result of her enthusiasm, many other Blippers* have selected one street in their community as a focus for their journal entries on Blipfoto. Because I rarely do street photography but take photos almost daily on the trails in Chagrin River Park, the park has become the locus for my project. My hope is that anyone viewing my blog will gain an appreciation of this special place. Here are a few of my keepers for today:
* Blippers are photographers who post a picture each day in their journals at Blipfoto.com.
That’s it for today. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will come back another day to see more photos from this special park.
Carolyn aka Skip
Rain fell during the night, but the temperature this morning was a bit warmer and the air was very misty. Despite the less than favorable weather, I headed to the park, leaving my usual lens, the 70-300mm telephoto, at home, and was delighted to discover that my little 50mm lens (nifty-fifty) was more than equal to the dull light. For the past week I have been experimenting with this lens to see what effect it would have on my nature photography. I’ve been in a bit of a rut, photographically speaking, and had come to the conclusion that, after four years of daily blipping, I was losing my photo mojo. My pictures were beginning to all look pretty much the same, and I was dreading the transition from October with its rich and varied landscapes to the dreary, gloomy, grey days of November.
Recently someone on Blipfoto, my photo-a-day website, challenged other photographers, i.e.”blippers”, to create a series of pictures taken on the same street. That wouldn’t work for me because my daily photowalks take me to the park, not down a city street, but (Iwondered) why not take a series of photos on the park trails and post those in my Blipfoto journal? So that is what I have been doing, and I have chosen to use only my nifty-fifty lens for this challenge. At this point, one week into my double-headed challenge, I have a confession to make. The telephoto lens is no longer my favorite lens for my daily photo walks. Not only have I fallen in love with the versatility and sharpness of the nifty-fifty, I am asking Santa for a new lens for Christmas, a 35mm prime lens. And nobody is more surprised by this turn of events than I am!
Below are a few keepers I captured on my misty morning walk in the park, but first, a word about the turkeys. The flock of turkeys that make their home in our neighborhood park (and beyond) has grown quite large over the years. I have no idea how many there are, but today I saw at least 21 of them roaming along the trails. The second time I encountered them they were on the sledding hill, and that’s where I captured the two pictures I included in my collection of keepers for today. They simply reminded me of little kids racing to see which one would be first to reach the bottom of the hill.
That’s it for today. Thanks for joining me on the photowalk. I hope you enjoyed the pictures.
Skip aka Carolyn
I walk in this park almost every day of the week. It conveniently borders our neighborhood, and is wonderfully maintained. It is also designated as an Important Birding Area by Audubon, and park naturalists lead frequent nature walks along the trails. I created this photoblog and titled it “Seen Along the Trail” because I felt the need to do something creative with the (literally) thousands of photos I have taken along these trails over the years. Today’s photowalk focuses (Poor pun, but “What the hey?”) on people who work and play in the park, with a few birds thrown in, because what’s a park without birds? Click on the first picture to bring up the gallery, and enjoy the photowalk.
That’s it for today. See you soon.
Carolyn aka Skip
Walk the winding trail or gaze across the landscape, and the dominant colors appear to be shades of brown and grey. These are the colors that define winter here in northeast Ohio (until snow falls). Look a little closer though, and you will discover a richness in Autumn’s color palette, hues you weren’t aware of at first glance.
Here are some of the colors I found along the trail today (Click on the first picture to bring up the gallery).
Postscript: This week I have been experimenting with my 50mm lens on my Nikon, wondering what a difference it will make in the things I notice on my photo walks, and, consequently, will it change (and hopefully improve) my photography? I have already noticed that this lens is faster, sharper, and more fun to use. On the down side, I missed an opportunity to photograph a pileated woodpecker today because my camera wasn’t wearing its 70-300mm lens. Oh well, I guess you can’t get them all!
So far, however, there are definitely more positives than negatives with this experiment. Here are three more pictures I captured today that would have been unlikely with the long lens:
That’s it for today. Thanks for coming down the trail with me.
Carolyn aka Skip
… with me for a short walk in the woods. Click on the first picture to bring up the gallery and enjoy an autumn morning.
My walk in the park not far from our home is a special hour in my day. Setting out with my camera, hoping to capture a few good pictures, fills me with anticipation. Some days are lean ones, photographically speaking, and some yield a rich return, but when I reach the end of the trail, I always head home refreshed and thankful for this daily gift from God.