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Whether through their amazing abilities at camouflage, or just their simple ability to blend into the habitat they're in, birds can sometimes be maddeningly difficult to see. How many times has this happened to you? You heard a bird nearby in a tree canopy. You know it's right there. You get closer and closer and start looking. It sings and sings and all but warbles out loud, "I'm right here, you idiot, can't you see me?" You know you're close enough to practically reach out and touch the bird, but you still can't see it.

If you're like me, this has happened countless times. I stand there looking up into the branches, craning my head left and right, leaning, moving around and around, and I still can't make out the damn bird. Very frustrating. But the fact is, some birds are very good at hiding in plain sight. Join me below the fold and let's take a look at some.

When I thought of this topic for Dawn Chorus today, this is the shot that came to mind for me. I took this with a little point-and-shoot camera a few years ago. I kept hearing the bird but I just couldn't see it. Using a valuable and sophisticated technique that I'm sure all the pros use (ha!), I finally just pointed my camera at the general area where I thought the bird was and took the shot. I figured maybe once I uploaded the photo, something would magically appear. It took me awhile to see it, but it's there: a Pacific Slope Flycatcher. Do you see it?

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This next one is pretty easy to see, but if not for those yellow leaves on the ground, this female Red-winged Blackbird would be awfully easy to overlook given that shredded bark she's standing on.

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Even black and white birds can seem to disappear when most of what you see is a tree trunk and lots of branches. But I'm sure you can see that Nuttall's Woodpecker in there.

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Talk about blending in. Look at how this little female House Sparrow takes on the colors of the ground around the shallow bowl where she's performing her dust bathing.

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These Killdeer are also pretty good at hiding in plain sight. These two stood completely still and from 20 feet away, I didn't even see them. Only when I got closer did they become apparent.

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Here's a Green Heron whose colors strongly match the colors of the creek and bank it's crouching in waiting for food to swim by. I accidentally flushed it and it flew up into a nearby tree which you see in the second shot of it below. Even in the tree, it's a bird you'd easily walk by if you didn't know it was there.

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When you see a Northern Mockingbird on a fence post or telephone line against a bright blue sky, they stick out like a sore thumb. When they're in a bush eating berries? Not so much.

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Here's one I confess I did not see. Tgypsy and I were birding last year with a friend of hers when the friend spotted this American Bittern in the canal running parallel to the two-lane road we were driving slowly along, hoping for just this sort of find. Can you say camouflage? Man, this bird has it down pat.

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Surely it must be harder for big birds like hawks to hide, right? Nay nay. They can hide high, like this Red-shouldered Hawk . . .

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or they can hide low, like this Red-tailed Hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Here's another bird whose plumage has adapted so closely to its environment, it's very difficult to see unless you're right on top of the bird (as I was with this one) or you happen to see it move. Case in point is this Cactus Wren.

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Okay, these have each been a piece of cake till now. Now, let's get serious. Find the Brown Creeper:

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Here it is with better light:

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And here it is in even better light, the better in which to see how it blends in to the tree trunk it's climbing.

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Another challenge. Find the Yellow Warbler. Really. It's there in plain sight:

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A bit easier to find is this Pacific Slope Flycatcher:

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I'll leave you with this challenge. A Yellow Warbler:

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I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I'm still full from eating too much, so I think I'm going to go get some exercise by going birding in a short while. If that's also on your agenda for the day, I hope you get to see some hidden birds as well as those beauties right out in the open. Here's one last Yellow Warbler pic that is another good example of hiding in plain sight. Good birding to you!

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Originally posted to Birds and Birdwatching on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Backyard Science.

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