Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)

Their quick movements and high-pitched calls make Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) challenging yet rewarding subjects for photography.

I think this is the first time I have photographed a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea). I was standing on the southern side of the marsh at Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge when I saw movement in the trees. It took some patience but eventually, the bird landed a bit lower.

The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) is a small, active songbird. It has a striking appearance with predominantly blue-grey plumage, a white underbelly, and a long, thin tail. The wings often show subtle flashes of white when in flight. To me, this little bird appears to be scowling.

During spring, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are highly energetic and vocal at the refuge, engaging in courtship displays and territorial behaviour. Males perform elaborate flight displays to attract females, showcasing their agility and singing melodious songs. Their nests, built by the female, are intricate and compact, often hidden in dense vegetation.

At Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge, these gnatcatchers can be observed flitting among trees and shrubs, searching for insects and spiders to feed on. Their quick movements and high-pitched calls make them challenging yet rewarding subjects for photography.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) · 22 April 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Sometimes I have confused a House Finch for a Northern Cardinal in flight.

House finches are seed eaters so I had expected that I would see frequent visits to my backyard bird feeder. However, the Institute Woods in Princeton is the only place where I have seen this finch, often mistaking it for what I thought was a juvenile northern cardinal. This is my first photograph of a House Finch.

The House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is a small passerine bird native to North America. It belongs to the family Fringillidae, commonly known as finches. The House Finch typically measures around 12.5 to 15 centimetres in length and weighs between 16 to 27 grams. It has a stout bill, short wings, and a notched tail. I like the mixture of red and brown feathers.

While I never see them at my bird feeders, House Finches are primarily seed-eaters, consuming a variety of seeds, grains, and fruits. Their diet may also include small insects during the breeding season. They are often found in urban and suburban areas, as well as open woodlands and shrubby habitats. House Finches are known for their melodious songs, which consist of a series of varied notes and trills.

House Finches are monogamous and form pairs during the breeding season. They build cup-shaped nests using twigs, grasses, and other plant materials, usually in trees, shrubs, or human-made structures.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

I was out in Institute Woods walking around for almost an hour. Finally opportunity and prepared combined and I got this shot.

Most of my Blue Jay sightings have been at the bird feeder in my backyard. The Blue Jay in the wild has been too quick moving and often hides out in the thicket making photography challenging. I was out in Institute Woods walking around for almost an hour. Finally opportunity and prepared combined and I got this shot.

The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is known for their vibrant blue plumage and distinctive crest. But they are often heard before they are seen.

While their vocal repertoire is varied and complex, the sound I hear the most is a series of loud, harsh "jay-jay" calls, which are used for communication and to signal alarm. Sometimes, Blue Jays mimic the calls of hawks to deceive other birds and deter predators. Additionally, they produce a variety of other sounds, including whistles, clicks, and gurgles.