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Female or Juvenile House Sparrow or something else entirely -c pry

Female or Juvenile House Sparrow or Something
Else Entirely — from the June 2013 Journal

My apologies to the people who write. I love email letters and answer them quickly, but I update this page rarely. I should probably also apologize to people who think that because I publish photographs of birds, I am a good identifier of them. I am not. I am terrible at it, and many, even common birds, go unidentified on these pages, yet people send me their images of birds or text describing them, and expect me to identify them.

Please don't do that.


May 20
J R: I have recently sent several folks to your bird website. I can't tell you how impressed I am with your work. It is really amazing. There really is a book somewhere in this. They are really great photos. Really, really great. !!!

Debora Hunter

May 17

Your pictures are amazing! And I love your avocet portraits too. You are a very talented bird photographer and I hope you're thinking of doing a book of your work.

We're forwarding your images to our friend Rich May who is an avid birdwatcher. I'll look forward to your next set of photos. So far, I don't see any owls where we saw them this afternoon yet.

Kathy Boortz

Kathy is a dear friend whose art about birds and animals and politicians I photograph several times a year. She also notifies me of interesting birds in her neighborhood, and I photograph them. See the May 2013 Bird Journal for the owl family in her trees.

May 11
I was walking at the lake with Debora Hunter yesterday. We were talking about how lucky we are to be able to go to the lake in the mornings and all the amazing things we see. She told me about your bird photos and sent me your website link. I just wanted to tell you how beautiful they are. I will be more watchful in the mornings and alert to all the birdwatching. I had no idea I was missing so much. I have seen you at the lake periodically but didn't know if you remembered me and haven't said hello.

Hope you have a great weekend. Just wanted to take a moment and compliment you on your lovely work and detailed observations.

Julie Cohn

I remember Julie. She and Debora Hunter, Frances Bagley, Susan Magilow and the late Linda Finnell were all friends in the 1980s, and they comprised a collaborative women's art group called Toxic Shock. I was a big fan of their work and remember them vividly.

April 29
Dear Mr. Compton:

I enjoyed your pictures of Pelicans very much. I've been watching a small group of them on a lake near Denver. I attached a picture of one with a peculiar growth on his beak. I have seen other Pelicans with similar appearances. Have you seen this before and do you have any idea why Pelicans would have this characteristic?

Thank you,
Rich Hughes
Arvada, Colorado

pelicans grow fins to show other pelicans that they are adult and of breeding age or desire. all american white pelicans in that condition grow the fins sooner or later. all. male or female. sometimes they get a little beaten up like in your photo. I have also seen what looks like two or three fins up there.

It's normal.

April 29
Can you please post some of your photos of White Herons, Blue Herons, and Egrets, Loons, and Ducks for the S. Texas (Houston area) areas at our page? I don’t want to copy any of your photos. I run a free webpage for our county, and am trying to educate the public on these birds being protected.

I live in an area with 3 lakes and woods, and all these birds and waterfowl live across the street. I have posted many photos of them taken myself. But I have heard of teens shooting the protected birds, and killing their babies eggs by bashing and throwing them. It makes me sick. I wonder if they would still do it if they knew the birds were protected by law? Several are dwindling in numbers, and protected for good reason.

I turned this in to authorities, but in addition I’d like to post information on their being protected on our page, along with the photos of the birds and waterfowl that are protected. It appears you cover more than Texas, and I’m only interested in the waterfowl in our area.

If you have regulations for them, please post as well. I’m a novice photographer too, and run this site at no charge as a courtesy for our community, to educate everyone. I don’t see regulation regarding protected species at your site. Perhaps this is something worth mentioning? Thank you very much.

Greg & Melissa

I usually suggest people just link to my Amateur Birder's Journal, which I think of as my bird photos' natural habitat. I don't like using them out of their original word and image context. Links are what makes the internet inter.

April 18
A colleague sent me the url for your pelican photos and noted that one of your 28 October 2007 photos was of a banded pelican. We banded American White Pelican E561 (green band with white codes) with metal band 0669-00859 as a pre-fledged bird at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, ND colony in July 2000. This bird was banded as part of a colony dynamics research study.

Did you had submit the sighting of the band to the Bird Banding Laboratory? Reports of banded birds help us track their movements and provide helpful information about their ecology. The easiest way to report a band sighting is: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/bblretrv/

Also, I’m conducting a study on changes of skin color and plumage related to age. It is always useful to have photos of known age birds to use for comparison. I was wondering if I could have your permission to use your photo of my banded bird in my research (properly credited of course)?


Tommy King
Research Wildlife Biologist

Of course I gave him permission.

April 4
I enjoy your amateur birders journal.

March 12
Just came back in & was curious as to what type of duck I saw at the park... and thru google I ended up at your site with pictures of ducks that were taken in 2008. Absolute beautiful photography.

I had to take a minute to tell you how much I enjoyed your work. I bookmarked that page so I can look at the pictures again.

Jill West

February 23
As President of The Dallas Arboretum, I would like you to know that I think your photography of birds is absolutely stunning. I would like to talk to you about the use of some of these at the Arboretum's new Children's Adventure Garden, being built on the north end of our property.

We will have scopes available to see the beauty of the lake and are looking for the best pictures for interpretation and yours are the best I have ever seen. However I well understand why you would want to copyright these.

At your convenience could you call me at my home on the weekend or at _ _ _ my office at the garden on a weekday at _ _ _. My email is _ _ _. I hope you will be willing to let us share some of these gorgeous photos.

Mary Brinegar
The Dallas Arboretum

Still angry with the Arboretum for turning their once-beautiful grounds into a children's amusement park, and cutting down their huge natural trees to replace them with huge, fake, steel trees, and turning their natural grounds into parking lots to hold the additional cars — they wanted to put their parking lots on Winfrey Point and another wild area just up from the lake, but public opinion turned against them when they announced that — I declined Mary Vinigar's offer to feature my photographs without paying for them.

I don't always charge for their use, but the Parkoretum could obviously afford them. They're spending millions on the amusements and new parking lots.

I asked her direct questions, not a single one of which she deigned worth a reply.

February 21
Howdy from Grand Prairie, I found your site while looking for bird photography . I would like to capture images of birds I observe with my Nikon D7000 and 50-300 with 2x. It seems White Rock Lake would be a good starting place; specifically Sunset Point. Do you ever meet with other birders/photogs to share info? I am not really sure where to start shooting birds. Anyway, love the photos and I will keep watching your site.


January 31
I absolutely love your page on herons and egrets. Very informative

I live in Burgaw, NC. It is by the ocean, about 15-20,25 minutes away depending on the traffic. It is very swampy around here in most places. Burgaw actually is a Native American word meaning mud hole.
Anyway like I wanted to say, great page. You must be very knowledgeable on the subject.


January 29
You always say you are an amateur - but NO WAY!!! Every picture is a work of art. I love going through the whole scroll - was glad to see the ones I fell in love with on our little trip that morning!!

Thanks again for taking the time to do all that photographing and then writing each little story. Loved it. Goodnight! Love you.


(Yes, that's really from my mother.)

January 16
J R,

I noted that you were unsure about your hawk ID. I am unsure of the species as well. You should find an expert in your area that can help you identify birds, even from a blurry shot. It's difficult to comprehend you trying to capture an image in frigid conditions. Although I've considered living in Texas in retirement, I don't think I could tolerate the cold in the winter months. There is the problem in Florida of having to adjust from rare cold mornings very quickly, in the water especially, when overheating occurs. You have a very good sense of humor. Keep up the great work. Please consider changing the font size of your text for an easier read.


I often need help identifying birds, and I'd be pleased to have anyone who knows help.

I told him how to change the font size of any webpage — command or control + for larger and - for smaller.


January 8
Hi J R,

I enjoyed looking at the pictures from your trip this morning. It’s wonderful that you were able to get good photographs of a nice variety of birds. I especially loved the Sandhill Cranes. The Barnacle Geese were a surprise to see.

Sorry I can’t help with shore bird IDs but I did want to point out the first bird on the Jan. 3rd entry. I believe the bird is a beautiful Vermilion Flycatcher male rather than a Scarlet Tanager. Another great find from your trip.

I hope that you have been doing well.


December 31
I'm a nearly retired high school biology and physics teacher and an enthusiastic bug and bird photographer in Virginia Beach, VA. While trying to identify a couple of herons that I photographed yesterday I used your web site. GREAT pictures and very helpful!

Stuart McCausland

September 8
Hi JR,

firstly, may I thank you for your website. It was through you that I discovered White Rock Lake. It is now my day out of choice when I visit Dallas. Credit where credit is due on Redgannet Blog. I was lucky enough to be in town yesterday and made a quick visit there in the morning.

You are looking for ideas to identify some birds this week on the lake. Have you considered Solitary Sandpiper? The white eye-ring is quite a compelling characteristic. The legs look dull enough to rule out either of the Yellow-legs and they are too long to allow the Spotted Sandpiper.

When you come to looking up the dragonfly, may I suggest Common White-tail. Look especially for the female. When you see a picture of the male, I bet you will recognize it as another common dragonfly from the area.

Thanks again,

August 19
Hi JR,

Possibly we have crossed paths at the lake; don't know. I have been out there frequently photographing everything that doesn't get away too quickly. I enjoy looking at your pics and a couple of those most recently posted from August 17 maybe can identify.

The "invisible" bird appears to be a solitary sandpiper. I Googled pics with the tail feathers showing and it looks like that to me.

The other "unknown" bird is very probably an immature female red-winged blackbird.

Maybe we'll identify ourselves out there sometime, although I don't get out there as much since we moved to Farmers Branch, west of I-35.

Happy Birding,
Brenda Loveless

June 4
I love your liquid gold shot. It is beautiful and looks like a painting! The lake is truly a magical place.


May 12
Dear Mr. Compton,

I have been observing birds in my neighborhood during my late afternoon walks and saw large bodied birds across a creek some distance from the community trail. I thought they were egrets but there were also some dark colored birds nesting in the same tree tops as the white birds so I thought those were blue herons.

Thank you for your website which explained that the young blue herons look like white egrets. I've attached three recent pictures of the herons. I zoomed in all the way to get these as the birds are quite a distance away. They nest in trees over a creek and it is difficult to see all the nests until the leaves drop in the fall.

My husband and I lived in Dallas for about 13 years (Love Field area) and he ran around White Rock Lake at that time. We then moved to Chicago for four years and have been in Round Rock, TX, since 1998.

Thanks again for your website.
Sylvia Dunnahoo

May 5
In the April edition of your Amateur Birder's Journal you have a photo of "a moth that is not in your insect book." That is a butterfly. It is called Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Also, since Wilber has disappeared, I thought you may like to see the photos below taken back in January 2011.



Wilbur and Ken

April 24
Hi J R:

I am enjoying your bird pics especially the scissor tails that was a good one you took of one in flight. We have had scissor tails in Mesquite near Samuel Farm area since early April which is the earliest I have ever seen them. The last week in our neighborhood we have seen our first Western King birds about 5 of them chasing each other around.

At Our local park which has a lake is a population explosion of ducklings. One lone lesser scaup has decided to make his home there it seems.

I am sad about Wilbur being gone.

Happy birding!

March 26
Hi J R.

I enjoyed your series of photos of the blue Heron eating an "eel" and of him even washing it off, you have a lot of patience. I went to White Rock Sunset bay Friday but only 3 pelicans left, saw blue teal, gadwall, and several northern shovelers and saw and heard a downy wood pecker what a lot of noise that little guy made!! also saw swallows and a scissor tail already, early Spring.

Happy birding,

February 25
Good morning everyone;

My name is James Daniel originally from the Guatemala. I live in Florida since 1989. I love nature and I am very respectful for whatever nature offers to us. I call nature the forgiving garden because sometimes we cannot own everything that has in it but we must preserve for the future.

Where I live we have three lovely cats and some birds. I am against animal cruelty. I am a professional Health Care who soon going back to college.

I came across to your web page, “The Birds of the Rio Grande II” because I typed on google.com the keyword: “selling molting owl, eagle feather”. Feather have been very precious and spiritual items in my culture and through out my ancestors (Aztecs and Mayan Indian).

I love to collect feathers for personal use as long as the feathers were molting from the bird. I am looking for owl and eagle feathers whichever amount you might have available. Also, I saw the owl both feet with the claw pads. Any information how to buy this type of items please advice.

I am Not a dealer or collector. These items has spiritual meaning. Thanks for giving me your time to read this email.

God Bless You All!
James Daniel

I don't sell feathers.


February 9
Loved your photos, I've been a keen photographer for a very short time in Brisbane Australia and am going to the States next July. I love photographing BIF [birds in flight] and am looking forward to the assortment in the U.S.

Anyway just wanted to say That I really enjoyed your site.

Dennis Ellis

January 28

I just stumbled across your bird watching site while doing a search for House Sparrows on Google.
Just wanted to say - fantastic site. Love your photos. Great work!

Have a great day!
:) S


December 7
Dear Mr. Compton:

My name is Erin Stalcup, and my husband is an avid follower of your blog. He's a budding birder, and for Christmas I thought I'd get him a bird feeder for our balcony. We're new to North Texas (just moved to Denton for a PhD program). Do you have an inexpensive bird feeder you'd recommend? We've never had a feeder before, so I figured you might know what kind of food would attract the most creatures.

We wouldn't put it up until the spring, right?

I'm sorry I'm so ignorant about these things. I looked at a few websites for advice, but it wasn't immediately clear to me, so I figured I'd ask the expert.

Sincere thanks for your time,
Erin Stalcup

I suggested she visit Wild Birds Unlimited. I don't [yet] feed the birds.


July 5
Occasionally, I bird with people besides Anna. There are folks I see at the lake and just go off to talk with them and we bird while we talk. To bird with me any other way, you'll have to be doggedly persistent. I purposely choose different times for different reasons and different birds. I rarely plan far ahead. I go when I have time and inclination, or I haven't been in awhile.

Lately, the heat has got me in a deep, tired funk. Early, if I'm already up (I'm not an early riser.), it's dark but cool. Mid-day it's bright but hot. At about four, it's fabulous for birds and light, but sweat-drenching, so I only stay out about fifteen minutes and only go where I'm sure I'll find birds. Evenings are barely adequate for light but there might be a breeze. At heart, I am a loner, but I have enjoyed birding with company.

To learn your own style, you should probably bird alone and at your own pace. That's how I started. I don't think the equipment matters, and going with what you have is the best way to figure out what you need. Few agree about that.


Matt K - Best Blue Wading

Best Blue Wading by Matt Kaplinksy

Hi JR-

So I keep my "good camera" at home for the most part, and my Canon SX130 in the car. Just as I am griping about "cant get no dang darn animals with my camera" I am driving past a cow pasture and lo, a blue bird in a temp pond of sorts. Pull over and this is what I got with my "car camera." Murphy's Law? Of course it was at full digital zoom, noisy, colors off from real life, etc., but at least I got the shot and never took a photo of one before....

Matt K

June 14
I Googled "Birds of the Rio Grande Valley" and your photos came up. Just wanted to say thank you for you posting them. Great photos, I wish my Pentax would be as sharp. We plan to be in Mission for the winter starting in late October (Bentsen Grove RV Resort) and I am trying to familiarize myself with the bird life coming up. I think I am doing OK but the sandpiper-dowitcher bunch still has me pretty much confused. Anyway, thanks for posting and continued best wishes.

Ray Laakaniemi

May 21
I came across your site while searching for a Kestrel picture for my daughter. I love the "Male Kestrel flying low (2009) from
Are there prints for sale? Website? Price?

My granddaughter (just tuned one!) is named Jessica Kestrel. My daughter did most of her mini "big year" while pregnant (ranked 3rd in lower 48.) I would love to get something with a Kestrel for her and that photo is fantastic. I have great memories of birding trips with my daughter before the baby was born. She knew we wouldn't be able to bird or travel for a few years after, but Jessica has already been banding. Before she could talk, she signed bird when she saw or heard one! Mom is a hydrogeologist and dad is a biologist - they waited 11 years for her. Grandma is, happily, just a grandma...

Thanks so much,
Kate Robson

I'm terrible at the business side of bird photographing, although I do sell a few images, I don't have a large-image color printer, just a letter-size printer that I've never yet had to use. To make decent-sized prints I'd have to charge for my time and theirs, and that's pretty expensive, so it usually doesn't work out, unless the potential buyer is doggedly persistent.

The Birrrrrddd Jourrrrrnnnnllll is my chosen medium of presentation. It's quick, easy (I've been using Photoshop since version one in 1990 or so), and practically free. Most people find me too expensive for prints, and that works to my peculiar advantage.   


May 7
I saw this new book at the visitor center at Anahuac and they also had it on the kiosk at High Island. It is a new format for bird ID books. I am trying to decide if I want to buy one or not. Next time you are at a book store you might check it out.

Richard Crossley video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IxJ4vIrP54&feature=related

April 12
I've been looking at your website for a couple of years (love it!) and finally decided to get into birding. I went out with a group this last Sunday morning and they found a red- shouldered hawk sitting on her nest in a tree behind the dam. I went back today and found her again. Have you seen this? The people leading the walk said this bird has been nesting there for a couple of years. If you would like to find her, I can meet with you and show you where she is. I would love to see some good pictures of her - my camera just isn't good enough for something like this.

Danita Frederick

I followed her precise instructions, shot, went back, shot again, then apparently forgot about it. Oof! stupid of me. ; j r

April 11
Thanks to you I'm able to identify the pictures of the Blue-Winged Teals I took Saturday. Yesterday I got pictures of Northern Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, which I had never seen.

I, too, have been worried about the lone pelican. When I photographed it in full wing span on Saturday, it was obvious what the problem is...at least 1/4 (if not a little more) of his left underwing feathers are missing; and you can see gaps in the remaining ones. Bless its heart, I doubt that it can fly very far, if at all. I know it's all part of the circle of life, but I still feel badly for it; especially when our scorching summer gets here.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share with you what I witnessed. Thanks again for all the great photos.


April 6
I just stumbled across your wonderful website tonight while looking for pictures of monk parakeets on Google Images. One link led to another, and suddenly, I was looking at your fantastic photos and birder's journal.

I'm taking three senior-ish friends to WR Lake this Sunday for Chris Runk's (Dallas Audubon Society) guided bird walk and am going to refer these friends to your web site, so they can get a preview of what to expect to see. I hope we will be able to see a pelican, tho' it sounds increasingly unlikely as the days pass.

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your sharing your photography & your observations of birds around White Rock. Some of your photos show an amazing amount of detail - more than I can ever remember seeing in pictures of some of these birds. As a pretty rank amateur birder, these images and your comments are really helpful.

Keep up the great work!

March 9
Dear Mr. Compton, A friend here at the Lab of Ornithology just directed me to the fabulous photo posted on your site of the Red-tailed Hawk. Could I link to that from our Celebrate Urban Birds Facebook page today? We might have a little discussion about Red-tailed Hawk feathers and your photo shows what we’d be talking about perfectly. No worries if you don’t want us to link to you...I have other photos that might work also.

Christianne White, project assistant

Celebrate Urban Birds, Citizen Science
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca NY 14850

I did. - ; j r

February 27

I LOVE your blog and it has inspired me to create my own. I was wondering how to put a copyright watermark on my pictures like you do on yours. I wasn't sure if it was something that was done from your camera or the computer. THANK YOU for your assistance.

KC Jones

i use Photoshop. There's probably other software that will allow you to combine text with pictures, but I use the full, expensive version of Photoshop.


February 17
A neighbor happen to catch sight and photo a bald eagle way up here in NJ. As we live in an amazingly beautiful and slightly hidden habitat, I’ve seen quite a varied slice of wildlife. Searching Google for juvenile photos of bald eagles (his photo was a quick phone cam shot of the eagle perched in his backyard) led me to your site.

Your site has some great photos which were a pleasure to scroll through. You have a really good eye for seeing the beauty all around us. Thanks for sharing!


February 16
Your Bird pictures are AMAZING!!! We are new to birding and the photographing of them. I was wondering what type of lens do you use when shooting birds?

Brendon & Deanna

The photographic equipment I use is now linked at the top of every Bird Journal page.    ; j r

January 24
I just viewed your website and enjoyed it immensely.

My husband and I were out driving north of McAllen yesterday and saw many, many hawks, javelinas, turkey vultures, deer, etc. It was a wonderful day seeing all this wildlife.

We live in Harlingen, Texas and our backyard is on the Colorado Arroyo. I have pictures of the Bobcat, Armadillos, a multitude of birds and the Chachalacas every evening. Once you have heard them calling during mating time, you will never forget it.

We are lucky to have a nature reserve – Laguna Atascosa, just north of the town of Laguna Vista, (north of South Padre Island, Hwy 100). They have bird blinds to watch many many birds and also a drive along the Laguna Madre (ocean) where hawks are fishing and other animals go to the water to drink. It is a 14-mile drive in your car with viewing all along the route.

Thanks for making my morning even better being in the RGV.
Donna Crawford

while looking up the technical name of a pelican's goggy woggle I found your photo essay on the pelicans stretching.
It really made my year...so far. WOW what a great experience to see through amazing photos.

A. Karno

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed looking at the photographs on your “Birds of the Rio Grande” web page. We see many of the same birds here in southern California, and your shots were beautiful and educational. Thank you so much for sharing them!

I learned about birding from a man who believed that you should not carry a field guide in the field, ironically. Because he believed you could easily spend more time with your nose in the book and not on the birds. I carry on that tradition in his honor today.

Now that I have discovered your sites I feel a greater confidence when I make an ID in the field that I am not 100% positive on, and I use your pages regularly for the great shots, so often from different angles on the same bird to confirm my suspicion (or show it to be wrong all to often J)

Thanks again and best regards,
Brad Ervin
Oceanside California

January 19 2011
Morning JR, I just wanted to let you know I really enjoy your shots around White Rock. My morning commute to work is along West Lawther and the same coming home and I’ve snapped some good ones from time to time as well as when I’m fishing out of my inflatable raft (I’ve actually caught the WRL bass record ... love to brag about that). Amazing how many species of animal/ birds White Rock contains.

Keep up the great work.
Travis Stein


November 5
Just wanted to say that I really like your bird pictures. I'm the one who told you about the monk parakeet — you're shot is really good. I love the one of the Canadian goose where you can see the color of its eyes and you also had some awesome captures of the hawk!

Thanks for sharing your photos and comments.
Lucy Rogers

July 10
I am a photographer in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (4 hours from the Rocky Mountains). I came across your Website by accident; I'm glad I did. Your photos are absolutely stunning! More importantly, is your link to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation. Good job! I am a volunteer for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton www.Wildlife-Edm.ca and I always love the experiences I encounter through this society.

All the best!
Barb Eglinski

July 2 2010
Just wanted to send you a note to say I stumbled upon your website (while looking up photos of barn owls) and it’s a great site, it’s obvious you love life & love what you do.

June 30
Today I got up early enough so I could to the White Rock spillway before work, what a wonderful sight to behold, the water is gushing over the rocks and I saw about 50 snowy egret, a couple of great blue herons, little blues, night herons, little white egrets having a fishing party there at the spillway.

Had to let you know still enjoying your pics.

Emily Fagan - Mystery Mexican Heron

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron

June 26 2010
I bumped into your website as I was searching to identify a bird I've photographed. I'm living on a sailboat in Ensenada, Mexico (just south of San Diego), and a group of 4-5 birds comes into the marina late every afternoon and hangs out all night, sitting on the boats' docklines and fishing. Their squawks are very loud, and they are active all night long. They generally disappear during the day.

I am trying to identify what they are, and I think I've narrowed it down to young yellow or black crowned night herons, and I'm leaning towards the black crowned, as they are pretty stocky and they hunch a lot. I was wondering if you could shed any light on my quest, as you seem to have photographed these herons and watched the juveniles quite a bit.
Emily Fagan

June 20
Wow, I just had to tell you, that I am an artist and my next painting is going to have an egret or two in it, so I googled egret images just to get an idea of all what they look like, and I came across your BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS!!!! I can not believe how you can capture them so.

My website is www.nickib.net if you want to check it out and know that I am not a kook,lol. I wanted to know if you would be able to let me use a photo for a reference. I am just starting out my career after spending the last 32 years taking care of my family and now I am having a blast with my painting. You are definitely going to make a huge name for yourself. What talent!!!!!
My best,
Nicki Bernacchi

My usual charge to include one of my photographs in an artist's art is a smaller, at least 8.5 x 11-inch version of my photo's part in their art. But so far, only one little girl has paid that small price, and her painting of a baby mockingbird is on my office wall. Everybody else seems to think it's too much bother, which is fine with me. I'd much rather have my photographs continue as photographs than in someone else's works.

May 14
I was delighted to find your lovely website! You look like the person who might be interested in helping me (perhaps).

Attached is a photo of a bird that fell out of a oak tree in front our house in southwest Houston (along with nest). Notice the beak - very interesting! It's not a baby - but it's surely not full grown. The beak is kind of large, wide light tan colored. I thought it might be some kind of mocking bird (no red)...I have tried to give it everything from earthworms, bits of strawberries and kiwi to ground flax seed...and of course water. it must be eating something because he/she poohs. We are having a terrible thunderstorm - so it is safe and warm inside. It doesn't have a churp but a "shwiiiiiet" sound in low, soft tones.

The bird is predominantly gray with a broad white band of feathers (I think this is correct)when it opens it's wings on each side...seems quite gentle.

Tonight I found him/her sitting on top of the cardboard box and it stepped into my palm and stayed there quietly for about an hour. Periodically - I would gently pet its head with my forefinger.

I do have a 9 and 5 year old that find it quite fascinating. When the weather clears up and some more feathers grow - I will place it gently in the protected backyard under some foliage.

As long-time readers have probably figured out by now, I'm really not very good at identifying birds. I am getting better and better at photographing them, but I.Ds still usually escape me so much I need expert help myself.

As usual, when people tell me about rescuing birds, I refer them to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation's site and their Rescue Rules.

April 14
Just ran across your site while looking for something else.
Great photos, inviting site! Keep at it! :)


Yeah, I keep at it. Probably will continue even when nobody hits these pages anymore, I'll keep putting them up, I love photographing — and making the photographs of — birds.

April 13
Love your work, spend lots of time just browsing through the bird pictures. Thanks for sharing,

April 11
I just want to thank you for sharing your beautiful photos with those of us "wanna-be" great photographers. When I stumbled on your site in January and saw that White Rock has white pelicans, I couldn't believe it. We go to Sanibel Island, Florida every year and that's the only place we've ever seen white ones.

Then yesterday when I opened your site (the first site I go to every day) and saw Anhingas, my heart leapt because they're one of my favorite birds and had only seen them in Florida as well. So I'm planning on locating the rookery next weekend and was wondering if there's a specific place that is the best to see them?

I only have a little Fuji FinePix digital with a 12X zoom, so I know I could never take pictures like yours, but I'm bringing my binoculars in hopes of at least watching them.

I've taken pictures for years but can't afford the kind of camera I need to take the kind of pictures I want, but still I've been able to capture some pretty amazing creatures even with my little camera. After viewing your site, I'm toying with the idea of starting a web site so I can share my pictures, too, but I don't have a clue as to how to do that and at my age (58) learning the computer has been a challenge!

I work at a school so I'm gonna ask one of our computer techs if they can help me so with me luck.

Thank you again, Mr. Compton, and I hope your leg heals soon.

Before I got my Nikon D200 I used to photograph birds with a Sony f707 with its built-in 5:1 zoom. Photographing birds with Point & Shoot cameras can be a challenge, but it's possible and can be worthwhile.

March 31
My name is Taylor Cotten and I was first introduced to your web page by my parents W.T. and Lorrie Cotten and was overwhelmed with your ability to capture details and the beautiful colors of the birds you were photographing. I studied wildlife throughout my undergrad and graduate school and began snapping photos about three years ago.

I have mostly taken macro images of amphibians and reptiles since they had been the focus of my studies in school. However, over the past year or two I have become more interested in birds (as I learned more about them) and would love to be able to try to broaden my extremely limited skill as a wildlife photographer.

I have enjoyed photographing with other people, but I rarely know more than a few hours ahead of time when I will go to the lake, so it would be difficult to plan ahead.

March 18
Beautiful egret photos. I'd say you're already an expert in the field. Thanks for the site. Forwarded to a few friends as well. Onward and upward.
Mary H. Montreal,
Québec, Canada

February 23
I loved your photos you took of the Cedar Waxwings in the berry tree the other day, then when I returned home there was a flock of Waxwings in our neighborhood feeding on a berry bush then what a treat they were our backyard for a while, they move so fast and don’t like humans too close, the photos you took of them are amazing one can see all the detail of the lovely plumage. Glad you are still able to get about a bit and do some photos.

February 15

I visited your website at the weekend and enjoyed your photos of the guy leaping and the snowmen how creative people are! Also what a treat Cedar waxwings came to visit your place. We had some one day. Every day we have a flock of juncos (snowbirds) and Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal come to eat sunflower seed we put out. I am glad you were able to get out and enjoy the rare treat of a snowy day in Texas.


January 23
Hi J R,

I was looking at your birder's journal, and was really captivated by Sunset Bay. I wonder if you would tell me how to get closest by car. I know how to drive down Emerald to Winfrey Point. I have a foot problem that makes long walks difficult. But I love White Rock and trees and pelicans.

So I would sincerely appreciate directions to the closest place to park to reach Sunset Bay. BTW, I have a 20 year old car, too.

I linked her to my now-annotated White Rock Lake Map that is now linked atop recent Amateur Birder Journal pages and gave her more precise instructions beyond that.

January 20
Hi J R:

I enjoyed your photos from yesterday at the Fitchery area. My other half and I walked along the dam by the old red brick pump house some time back. Is the Fitchery near there off West Lawther drive? I can’t figure how to get there but would like to.

I couldn’t believe the YAHOOS in the canoe that scared the birds in Sunset Bay Sunday and even laughing while they did that UNBELIEVABLE!! And we are so fortunate that the pelicans and other precious wildlife choose to live near us.

Jennifer Ludeman

Anna started calling The Old Fish Hatchery Area "The Fitchery," and I've gone along with the shortening of that long name, so it won't be on any map but maybe mine. The Fitchery is directly down the long, deep hill behind the long, tall portion of the dam from the Spillway down that long, straight, concrete line toward The Old Boat House.

When it was a Fish Hatchery, its rectangular pans were fed by water directly from the dam. Now, it's a lush area that holds water and birds all through the year.


December 12
Hi J.R.

My name is Colin, and I have really enjoyed your photographs over the years, frequently checking it for your latest
shots and so forth. Thanks for the hours of enjoyment.

I have become a big fan of the white pelican flock over the years. Today ( Dec 12th) I happened to drive over to the Trinity River Audobon park off Loop 12, and somehow came across a LARGE flock of pelicans (I estimated 80-90) at a pond nearby at Rochester Park. Are you familiar with that flock or ever photographed them? Just curious if you had any history with pelicans further to the south of White Rock.

Have a great holiday season, and thanks for all the entertainment the last few years!


I've seen as many as 150 American White Pelicans at White Rock, but only for one night — only about 70 seem to stay at the lake each year, so I knew others use White Rock to stay overnight then go off to whatever lake or pond they spend their autumn and winters at, than go back north on Tax Day.

There are probably many places they do that. I have seen large arrays of American White Pelicans in Arlington and Dennison. I'm sure there are many others.

October 12
Thought I'd ask if you have seen the kettling of hawks over our White Rock area. I live south of the lake and yesterday counted 22 broadwing hawks "kettling" almost over my house! Thrilling sight and seems to happen each Sept. when they are migrating South.

I enjoy your bird watching photos so much. Stunning pictures! Thank you for doing all of that and putting it where people like myself who are limited in what they can do somewhat can see.
Jeanette Crumpler

I asked what part of the lake she'd seen the hawks over.

It was not over the lake but over my house on LaVista Drive which is south of the spillway about 10 blocks. But the pathways they seem to take this year was on the west side of the lake then when they were kettling they would swoop up and form almost a funnel, fly a few dozen yards then kettle again, seemingly to gather more together. I think these are broadwing hawks not the red-tailed ones that usually stay in our Dallas area all year. They definitely weren't buzzards or larger hawks. My friend who had a farm near Quinlan said owls also did this. And she had also seen hawks do this.

I've only seen this twice but I'm thinking it goes on all of this time of year but we just don't see them.
I went on Google and put in "kettling hawks" then also clicked on images and they were pictured and written about. Just fascinating. Wish I had been quick enough to photograph them even with my phone!

Hope you can someday capture that. Thanks again so very much for your excellent photos of the birds & critters at White Rock. I've told everyone I know about your web site.
Jeanette Crumpler

We are spending a month in Key West, Florida and have wondered what we were seeing as we tool around the canals and shallow areas. Your website is so helpful to our understanding – most notably, that we are unlikely to ever understand but that is ok.

Thank you so much for putting so much information about the different varieties in one place.
Warm regards,
Jan Edelstein and Bruce Reed

April 5
I really enjoy your photos of WRL a lot. I go to the Hatchery a lot to bird watch (snakes,coyotes, raccoons, beaver and so on) and appreciated the YCNH you snapped recently. He has been in that pond (I can tell which pond it is by the water vegetation) along with a Little Blue Heron for over a week. I got the same type photos of him yesterday. I got him fishing, going in and pulling out a crayfish and gulping it down. If only I had your lens. I have a Nikon 70-300mm and it's just not quite long enough.

I was glad to see you post Stumpy. a couple of weeks before that, I picked him up. I couldn't figure what he wanted. He seemed to really like me and I screwed up my courage and picked him up. What a great goose!

April 1
I am a teacher, and we are working with a kindergarten class on an owl inquiry project. I would like to use your owl pictures and experiences for the kids to read and analyze. We would keep your name attached, and not post the pictures anywhere. However, I would like to put part of your blog in a word document because the rest of it would confuse the kids with their fledgling attempts to research. The picture you have of the owl’s wing is perfect for an experiment the kids could do with combs to recreate the silent wings. Would this use be acceptable to you?

Lynne Ursenbach
AISI Learning Leader
Calgary Board of Education
Calgary, Alberta

I like the idea.

February 20
Just happened on your website while looking up Egrets What a beautiful site and sight! Thanks so much for it. I too am an amateur bird watcher, feeder and obsessed bird person. I live in W. Covina, Ca. in a hilly area with a big pond/reservoir below me. Through the years I've been privileged to observe so many migrating duck, beautiful Great White Egret, Great blue Herons, turtles and my regulars that seem to sort-of live there. This year I was lucky enough to get a small flock of escapees at my feeder. After much investigation, I found out they were beautiful Spice Finches!!! Lucky me!

Sorry to ramble, but I get excited about this stuff. Thank you again for a pleasant visit to your lovely website. Great job and beautiful photographs.

Pat Scurti

February 19
This morning around 7:45, I was walking down by White Rock Creek, about a half mile down from the Spillway. I live at the Enclave. Anyways, there were a lot of birds feeding in the creek. I spied a large black bird gliding in from the east. At first, I thought it was a vulture, but then noticed it had a white head and yellow beak. I thought I was seeing things, but when I got to work I looked up the NCTexas Birds web page and saw your pictures.

There was no way to contact anyone on that page, so I came over here. On the Dallas Audubon chat page, I noticed someone else had sighted a Bald Eagle at the Spillway around the end of January, so maybe I am not losing my mind

Gary Sommerfelt

I walked up and down the creek there several times, but never saw that eagle again. Sometimes when the weather is fog soup, I think maybe I'll come upon it again, and this time I'll get to see its face. But not yet.

February 16
For my money, anyone who photographs birds and keeps an online journal qualifies for birder status. But then, I'm just a casual observer and probably don't even qualify for birdwatcher status. So my vote may not count. Thanks for doing this, though. I check your page everyday and really enjoy it.

Imagine Possibilities
Gretchen K. Riehl, Ph.D.


December 28
Thanks for your excellent website. I stumbled on it when I was trying to explain to my wife the difference between egrets and herons.

I wanted to share with you my favorite bird pictures. Yours are excellent, mine are OK.....Mine were taken with my Sigma 150 macro.

I too love taking pictures of birds, and luckily here in Florida, we have no shortage of subjects. I just have a shortage of time since I'm a busy pediatrician. We've gone on several trips this year including a cruise to South America where we stopped in the Falkland Islands. That day of observing penguins was the best! I'm sending you a few of my favorites from the Falklands.

I always say, however, that even though we've traveled thousands of miles away to some interesting places, some of my favorite pictures are from right down the street from where we live in Palm Beach County, Florida. I'm sending you a few of my favorites of a young green heron and a few others.

If you're ever in Florida, let me know. I'll show you some good places.

Dan Kraft

December 16
Good morning,

I stumbled upon your website while researching what chicken legs look like and got tripped off on your birds. Now, about half an hour in, I am filled with a strange peace. Endorphins flood my system. Visions of soaring wings, curved necked egrets, adjutants in still water - the parade is endless. Sigh of pleasure knowing I can look forward to spending more of my mornings with these wonderful images. Thank you for generosity in posting these for everyone to see and enjoy.

I will now continue on my day's work. I am building a Baba Yaga's hut in the form of a giant lantern for Sunday's solstice and now full of bird, I shall sail through it with ease.

Thank you again for a wonderful journey.


December 12
I wrote you many months ago, saying that your site is the best free entertainment on the web. Well, thank you again. The wood duck jumped out at me while my son was in the room, and all I could say was: "That's why I watch what he is doing." He was stunned.

I absolutely love the idea that you put up a lot of everything; in focus, out of focus, with light failing, etc. Your comment on the focal length was very useful too. I think you really do a nice job of never forgetting that the birds are the important part of the equation. You site has me asking for a camera for Christmas (thank you Jesus!). I used to voraciously use my Canon A-1, but have needed to move on into the digital format. Not sure yet where I will put it into use, but I know interesting subject matter is never far away-just got to look for it.

You have a great holiday, and thanks again

November 17
I just found your page on egrets through googling images and would like to thank you for such exquisite shots of these amazing birds. Keep up the great work!

God bless!
(I'm with you on answering the phone ~ it's highly overrated!)

November 10
J. R. Compton, found you tonight on google, lost two hours reviewing your bird work and then found your trees in the mist. My God! You are astonishing! Don't ever stop!

Ferol Humphrey

October 9
What a wonderful life you lead.... with those birds and stuff... Loved your photos. I made a few wildlife films but am too ill these days... So I was trying to imagine how lovely to spend a life with the birds in the wild....

Shubhadarshini in New Delhi, India

August 5
I found your web site whilst I was looking for pictures of blackbirds and starlings to try and differentiate between the two. You have taken some really fab photos of birds – thank you – what started out as a 10 min quick search, turned into about half an hour of wonder as I looked through your other photos.


July 29
I'm a researcher in fluid mechanics working at the university of Genova, Italy. I'm about to publish a work on the aerodynamical properties of birds' feathers and I would like to add one of your photo (in attached file) to a scientific article that will be published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics (http://www.jfm.damtp.cam.ac.uk/).
Could you please tell me if it's possible?
Thanks in advance,

Julien Favier
Post-doc Flubio Marie Curie
University of Genova

Julien sent me a web image of the article but no hard copy. I would so have liked a hard copy.

July 28
Thank you for posting your beautiful photographs. Few people here in VA appreciate the attractiveness of grackles or their behavior, so I am often alone in my admiration for them.

You made reference to people stealing your pics without permission. What would be required to get permission? There is a photograph of a mother duck and ten ducklings that would make a great pattern for a counted cross-stitch. The mother and all the ducklings except one are swimming one direction, while one duckling paddles the other way. I don’t work for a company that makes and sells cross-stitch patterns commercially; I would be asking permission to use the image personally. (At times I have taken photographs and used them as patterns, but my photos are not so striking as yours.)

If it would be unacceptable (or excessively expensive), then that’s OK too. Just an idea I’m tossing around.


I suggested she make a counted cross-stich of the pic for me in payment, but I never saw it.



May 5
You have discovered a hen - a Rhode Island Red in fact - at White Rock. It is a she by the looks of her short red top. She is a beauty too. Your photos of birds are delightful and I was happy to spend some time just slowing down and looking. You are right; I have been busy.  You are a master with the bird shots. Thank you for sharing and thank you for capturing these beautiful feathered forms!


April 25
I came across your site this morning when Googling South Texas birds. My husband and I were in Edinburg/McAllen area recently and also visited the Quinta Mazatlan in the middle of the day. It was great but I wondered how wonderful it would be in the early morning or late afternoon. It was the first time I had ever seen (or heard of) the Chachalaca.

We have 2 hummingbird feeders and 3 bird feeders in the back yard. I sometimes just stand at the backdoor and watch the wrens, cardinals, grackles, hummers, etc ... and the cats crouching in the shadows. I've thought that someday I might be a "birder."

My husband and I were glad to get the id on the Great Kiskadee. We saw it, even got a fairly decent picture in McAllen but had no idea what it was.

One comment. What you identified as a bird nest — isn't that lichen? A type of fungus. The reason I say that is that it grows on some lines in Lockhart and someone wrote an article for the newspaper a few years ago identifying it. It's kindof like moss.

Keep up the good work or journaling and posting pictures.

the Parsons

I don't call it Amateur for nothing. I may not be able to tell lichen from a bird's nest.


January 24
I'm no expert, but I think that you have seen a reddish egret.

The little blue mystery bird and the photograph above it are both juvenile reddish egrets. I base this on the straightness of the beak and the high contrast black tip of the beak. Also, the reddish hue on the neck extends over the entire head. Size is also a good clue. If it seems a bit on the big side, it's a reddish.

When I'm not sure, they are pretty easy to identify in the water. The reddish egret is quite clumsy and splashes about, while the great blue is a stealthy stalker. Another giveaway is that the reddish egret is the only one that shade feeds.

Great site, and some stunning photographs, keep up the good work.



July 5
J.R. It was fun to see you yesterday — and meet Anna.

I looked around your websites, including all the birds. You have some great shots. Were all those herons in one place or did you digitallly multiply them for matting season? You really do have some great bird pictures.

I also enjoyed your movie reviews. You say so much with so little words.


July 8
I just brought a Nikon D50 and I have two lenses — a 18-70 lens, and a 70-300 lens. I do not get pictures anywhere as clear as yours and maybe you could give me some tips.

I saw the Black-crowned Night Heron for the first time today on the spillway at White Rock Lake. Took some pictures when I came back near 1/2 hour before sunset. They did not come out very good, maybe it was the light, but your excellent picture did confirm what bird I saw.

You had a great shot. What are your settings?

Great web site.
George Norwood

George Norwood,
I always use the best quality available. On the D200 it is called "fine." I don't know anything about NEF/RAW and don't use it, because I don't have software that deals with it. I use an elderly computer made sometime last century and my software is even older.

In my camera, JPEG Compression is set to Optimal. Optimize image is set to Normal, which means if I look at an image I've shot at full magnification in the camera, it _looks_ like it is soft. Very soft. That confused me for a long time, but now I just look at it at less than full magnification in the camera.

Any sharpening I apply to my images comes later, in post production. I use Photoshop to sharpen web-sized jpegs and rarely sharpen larger prints on paper. There I use Epson Premium Semigloss, because it makes my prints look sharper. Enhanced Matte is a lot cheaper and looks duller.

But most people see my images on the web. Those versions are sometimes as big a 10 inches tall or as small as 2 inches tall. The originals from my D200 (10.2 megapixels) are 36 inches tall by 53 inches wide at my Macintosh's screen resolution of 72 dpi.

I adjust each image's levels via the Levels command in Photoshop, then reduce them to the size I will use them online. I almost never sharpen a full-size image. I always use "bicubic" to resample an image when I reduce its size. Reducing an image's size almost always makes it blurrier. Usually the last thing I do while "Saving for Web" is to sharpen the image.

Sometimes, rarely, I sharpen 100%, but that usually looks too sharp (over-processed), so I immediately call up the filter command (command f on a Mac; probably control f on a PC) to filter back the sharpness. I usually filter back to 38%, which I've discovered is just the right pullback for my D200's images, although sometimes I pull back to a higher level. My usual choices are 38%, 44% or 55% for an image that's really mushy.

Photoshop lets me dial it up or down while I watch the image change on screen, which is how I discovered the magic 38% point. My five-year-old Sony F707 images usually needed full 100% sharpening at that stage.

Different images and different subjects and different types of lighting react differently to software-applied sharpness. Sharpness is not the same thing as resolution. In fact, they get in each other's way.

Resolution is the ability to render fine detail.

Sharpness is more akin to contrast. Contrast often looks better but tends to interfere with the ability to show detail. The relationship among resolution, sharpness and contrast is a complicated one.

It's easy to oversharpen an image. I want my images to look natural, but with a distinct edge that is difficult to quantify.

I don't know much about the 18-70, except I chose the much more expensive 17-55 instead, because it is much sharper throughout its zoom range and has a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. The 17-55 is sharp at every aperture until the really small ones. Most lenses get mushy at or after f/22 or 32.

I know a lot more about the 70-300, because I have done extensive research on it. Its best resolution and contrast and color reproduction is at f/8 and higher. I almost always set my camera for aperture mode when I use that lens, and I almost always set it at f/8, unless it's just too bright out. Or the light is too low, then I wish there was more light, because this lens gets mushy at full zoom and toward maximum aperture. But sometimes you just gotta.

The 70-300 is not a low-light lens. Its resolution and contrast in low light is lousy. It doesn't help that its maximum aperture at full zoom (where we tend to use it most) is only 5.6. Everyone who tests this lens says it suffers at full zoom. So that's where we have to be especially careful to use it at least at f/8.

Which makes it an even slower lens.

I bought mine to experiment. It's available online for about $140, so cheap I couldn't afford not to get it. Someday I'll either get a Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5 ~ 5.6 VR lens (expensive at around $1,200 now with a rebate, although maybe Nikon will come out with a lighter and cheaper digital version next September when it will release a bunch new lenses) or a non-zoom prime lens in the 300mm to 600mm range. The 80-400 VR is supposedly very sharp, and I've seen a lot of images in the online forums that prove it. It seems to be especially good for birding.

Kinda long-winded an explanation, but I hope that helps. I don't like dealing with telephones. I'm much more an email kinda guy.

More about me learning my new camera — and remembering what I used to know about photography — is at www.JRCompton.com/photos/D200/MyNewCam.html and the dozens of pages that follow.

Thanks for asking. It made these things a little clearer to me, too.