Frequent Flyers

Somewhat upset by the expensive airline tickets I recently purchased, I decided to post on some of my favorite frequent flyers seen recently in our backyard.

The House Finch--spoiled by the garden feeder


These black-capped chickadees have a very pretty song


Despite his/her size, this Blue Jay is very shy and flies off as soon as I take out my camera


I've not seen many of these--called Papillio glaucus (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail)

And finally, someone who looks like he’s just completed a rather lengthy and complicated experiment in the darkroom:

The Northern Cardinal.




About Steve Caplan

I am a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska where I mentor a group of students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers working on endocytic protein trafficking. My first lablit novel, "Matter Over Mind," is about a biomedical researcher seeking tenure and struggling to overcome the consequences of growing up with a parent suffering from bipolar disorder. Lablit novel #2, "Welcome Home, Sir," published by Anaphora Literary Press, deals with a hypochondriac principal investigator whose service in the army and post-traumatic stress disorder actually prepare him well for academic, but not personal success. Novel #3, "A Degree of Betrayal," is an academic murder mystery. "Saving One" is my most recent novel set at the National Institutes of Health. Now IN PRESS: Today's Curiosity is Tomorrow's Cure: The Case for Basic Biomedical Research (CRC PRESS, 2021). All views expressed are my own, of course--after all, I hate advertising.
This entry was posted in science, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Frequent Flyers

    • Steve Caplan says:

      Thank you–I had planned to reference your recent bird-post as an inspiration for this one, but got so bogged down getting the images small enough that I completely forgot!

  1. rpg says:

    Steve, why don’t you get a photo sharing account? Flickr is awesome, other folks use Picasa.

    • Steve Caplan says:

      Now why didn’t I think of that?! I’m embarrassed to say that I do have Flickr and Picassa accounts, and just didn’t think of using them…

  2. ricardipus says:

    Nice job, Steve. Jays are remarkably shy – I have had no luck at all photographing them in the back yard, although they are quite common here. Cardinals too – usually they just pop on to the feeder, grab a few seeds, and bail out for a tall tree somewhere.

    Those Swallowtails are really common in these parts in July but seem to disappear by the early part of August (at least the adults do). Demonically hard to photograph though – they seem to sit still for only a second or two before haphazardly flying away.

  3. Steve Caplan says:

    Oh, you need to use a TASER to get those photos…

  4. KristiV says:

    The Northern Cardinal looks almost apoplectic, like a grumpy PI, when the lab workers use lots of expensive reagents and don’t get any results. Also, his foot looks abnormal, but perhaps it’s just the camera angle or the way he’s standing.

    We have mostly Scrub Jays here, but just three hours’ drive to the east, the Blue Jays predominate. Their numbers seem to be reduced more severely by West Nile virus, than is true for other birds. I’ve always found the jays, whether Scrub, Blue, Steller’s, or Gray, to be rather bossy and bold, especially at feeders and birdbaths (the latter is a very important center of activity in my backyard this summer, for birds, reptiles, and insects). I recall that a Gray Jay flew over a campmate’s shoulder and stole half a cinnamon raisin bagel right out of his hand, just as he was preparing to spread cream cheese on it (the bagel, of course). The look on the human’s face was priceless … I fell off the picnic bench laughing.

    • Steve Caplan says:

      Here it’s the starlings and grackles that come in and chase everyone away–including the much larger jays. Fortunately, these grackles disappear for a period (perhaps they leave for cooler weather up north?) leaving us with a really beautiful group of summer birds. In addition to multiple daily visits by both downy and hairy woodpeckers, we also have the odd hummingbird, which are almost impossible to photograph!

  5. You’ve just made me homesick – no mean feat.

  6. ricardipus says:

    Ah, Gray Jays are notoriously bold – easily hand-fed with a bit of patience (as are chickadees).

    Kristi, Steve – Grackles and Jays definitely chase other birds off the feeders, but both species seem very nervous of humans. Grackles in particular will take flight at even the slightest attempt to approach them.

    And yes, the Grackles are all here in Ontario at the moment. 😉

    Steve – for Hummingbirds, a tripod and a remote shutter release are really the way to go. And hours and hours of patience. 😉

  7. ricardipus says:

    Also, Kristi’s story of the thieving Gray Jay reminds me of one from an Australian colleague, who had to hide under a blanket while picknicking to prevent a Kookaburra from absconding with his cheese sandwich. 😀

Comments are closed.