Toad in the Hole
August 03, 2006
One reason birds are so striking is that most of their colors aren't just pigment. With a few exceptions, those deep, other-dimensional blues and dazzling reds and all that are structural color, produces prismatically by their feathers. The first time I saw a white-faced ibis in good light -- well-lit by the sun behind me -- I was blown away. White-faced ibises look almost exactly like glossy ibises, but for a thin white band curving around the base of the bill in breeding adults. They hang out in fields and damp spots in the San Joaquin Valley and north of here; I've seen them around Davis, and flying across I-5, and in the mid-Valley refuges and in Oregon. And they're one of the big attractions of Sierra Valley, one of our usual day tours from Yuba Pass.
Someday I'll get a good shot of one, but so far these are my best.
This one was limping around a field just off the Marble Springs Road Bridge.
You can see the lame leg dangling as the bird takes off.
It didn't seem to slow it down much.
Look at the biggest size of this you can fit on your browser, and dig those iridiscent colors, the burgundy/rust and the blue/green/black/etc. I think this is a juvenile, because the head isn't quite that deep wine color yet.
The most amazing thing I saw about this bird was thirty-plus years ago, when some Audubon Society field trip maven handed an ibis feather around for us all to look at. Every color that's in the bird -- black, blue, indigo, bottle green, deep red, oxblood, iron oxide, burgundy, gold, flashbulb -- was in that feather, as I turned it in the light. A chromatic hologram!Posted at August 3, 2006 03:36 AM
That second picture is wonderful. You can see the whole line of the creature, that bill, those wings. Really something.
Posted by: Sara at August 3, 2006 02:38 PM
Thanks, Sara. And it was in large part just dumb luck and good old autofocus.
Posted by: Ron at August 5, 2006 01:47 AM