Big Daddy Moose

moose, canada, Alberta, jasper, horns, wildlife, safety, male, woods, sundog, sony
Evening light was low, and the moose was in motion. With an ISO of 4000 on the Sony mirrorless camera, I was able to capture this image of a powerful male moose with a well developed rack.

This time of year, it’s mating season for moose. Male moose that have grown a big rack, let the younger, less developed males know they are superior. They attract a “harem” of females with which to mate. They may sow their seed and  impregnate several females. Female moose, I’m told  by Derek of Sundog Wildlife Excursions, are attracted to the males with big antlers, by instinct. Perhaps they project that their offspring will be alpha males as well some day. 

Along the roadside near Jasper, Alberta, Canada, we spotted 5 moose — a female, a calf and 3 males. It was tough to get a clear photograph of the male with the fully developed rack since he walked behind the brush. When he did come out to walk by the road where we had a clear view of him, the Parks Canada truck cut in front of us, blocking our view and presumably shielding the animal from spectators in cars. Personally I think the alpha males working for Parks Canada wanted the best view to themselves, as we stayed respectfully inside our vehicles. Anyway, I got one exposure of Mighty Moose in the dwindling light through an open window, and here it is.

Just to show you a comparison, here is my photo of a younger male moose with newly developing horns. Hopefully one day, he will attract a harem of females and enjoy his mating season as the Big Cheese.

This bull moose is large, heavy and dangerous, but no match for the bull moose with the larger horns.

For me the American photographer, I was pleased to have five chances to photograph these enormous wild animals on a random evening in September. Word on the street is that most visitors aren’t as lucky. Derek’s record as a regular guide is six.

Finding Moose in Jasper

Our current trip to the Canadian Rockies has afforded little time to process photos and write blogs, but I wanted to take a hot second in Banff to process and share one of my fun wildlife photos.

We caught this young bull moose foraging along the roadside in Jasper National Park. Had to stay in the vehicle as moose (as well as elk and bear) can be quite dangerous.

Stay tuned for many more photos of the amazing landscape of the Canadian Rockies. I recommend this trip to Lake Louise, Jasper and Banff to everyone I know, especially in the Fall.

The Prize Winning Photo

One of these action shots of an osprey pair won first prize in the Royal Poinciana Golf Club’s 2019 Nature Photography contest. In this image, the female osprey is landing in the nest.
In this second image, the female osprey eyes the incoming osprey with a wary eye. You can identify the female with the brown speckles on the white breast feathers.

While I didn’t like the post in the center of the top image, the osprey in flight looked amazing. I like to photograph wildlife in action and let the image tell a story of wildlife behavior when possible. To achieve this, you need a fast shutter speed that will freeze action and produce a sharp image. It helps when the subject is well lit and the photographer is facing away from the sun. There is some luck involved, but practice, practice, practice allows you to be “lucky” and successful more often.

Born White, Turning Blue

The Little Blue Heron is born as a stark white bird, and it gradually develops those vibrant slate blue feathers as it matures. If you were not aware of that color change, you might wonder about the identity of this unique bird when you see it in the Everglades.

This juvenile Little Blue Heron shows some blue feathers coming in around the neck. The bill is taking on its blue hue as well. The white branches underline its ghostly visage in the swamp. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

Standing on one leg, the heron rests the other while silently watching the water for fish. “Little” is a relative term, as it can grow to 29″ and have a wingspan of 41 inches. It is only “little” when compared to the tall “Great Blue Heron,” that can stand 4.5 feet high.

Is Blue Your Color?

The Great Blue Heron stands out in the marsh with its blue feathers, long and sharp beak and distinct yellow eyes. I love to bike in the Everglades to get a close look at these elegant birds.

Examine the delicate neck feathers of this Great Blue Heron. The yellow eye and beak stand out with their complimentary color. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

This Great Blue Heron (below) shows his breeding plumage. The male bird wears the eye catching “dress” to attract a mate.

In profile, this Great Blue Heron shows his crown feather and delicate neck plumage. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

From Florida to Pennsylvania…

I’m delighted to spot the Red-Winged Blackbird. I learned about this beautiful bird on early morning bird tours on the Royal Poinciana Golf Club. Then, I recognized the same beautiful species in flight three times this month in Western Pennsylvania.

This red-winged blackbird sings a morning song in Naples, Florida. I have also spotted this distinctive bird near Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

Bird watching in Pennsylvania is especially challenging when the leaves are out on the trees. In the morning, you can hear numerous birds singing, but when you look for them, all you can see are hundreds of leaves in the trees.

I’m not complaining, for all this greenery is gorgeous! With the April and May showers, the lawns are as green as the west coast of Ireland and the trees are bushy with fresh green leaves. As I write today, the azaleas are in full bloom, and the rhododendron are up next. Happy Spring!

Green Heron, Turn Around

Want to know a fun fact about the Green Heron?

  • The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It often creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, and feathers, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish. (Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)
The Green Heron is a short stocky bird, compared to other herons. I found this one at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary at the water’s edge.
As I watched silently, the Green Heron turned around for another view in the sunlight. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, near Naples, Florida.