Posts tagged “Palace of Fine Arts


Run for it!


Juvenile Claw-billed Gull

An unusual sighting for California this time of year. Clawbills don’t usually arrive till late May.

Moving Violation

The skies above the Palace of Fine Arts are patrolled and the unwritten laws are enforced…

Red-shouldered Hawks are among the most frequent violators and the neighborhood watchers dutifully spring into action.

Merganser Two Takes



Circle Gets the Square

Mute Swan at the Palace of Fine Arts. This is a new take on an image I took about 5 years ago which I still prefer. (below)

Coot Sprint

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Lovely Rock Pigeon

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Coot Reflections

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA.

Mallard Drop

I’ve always loved the little water chandeliers ducks create as they plop into the water.

Ghosts at the Palace

The ghostly aeronauts are in full swing at the Palace of Fine Arts. Looks like the one nest we found in April (click here) has turned into three. I spent an hour and a half with the begging, clicking, chirping Barn Owls now residing in the rotunda.

Landing atop the columns. The owls are a bit more outgoing and less secretive than they were a few months ago.

I saw this couple, and a number of birds who were fully feathered but acting like juveniles and begging.

These owls are touching bills. I’m not sure why, but it seemed like the one on the left was begging and the other was just putting up with it.

This couple seemed more settled, but after a while it was hard to keep track of which owl was which. They travel silently and often wander along the ledges. I saw 9 different owls in 90 minutes.

This owl actually landed on a vertical face, clinging to the wall for 20 seconds before flying off.

This is a female who has several 4-5 week old chicks. Two of them have fallen from the nest and are now being cared for by WildCare. I happened to be involved in one of the rescues.(see the video below)

From what I can tell, this is a fully feathered chick, peering down from the nest.

They are venturing further out each day. They seem truly nocturnal, not becoming active until darkness really sets in.

Below is video of a 4-5 week old chick that fell 40 feet from the nest. It seemed in good health and will either be re-nested or slow released with other young owls at a rehab center.

Gull Shakes

Western Gulls like to shake off like dogs after they bathe. This results in some pretty comical and wondrous distorions of an otherwise familiar form. I’ll be photographing this behaviour more but thought I’d share these now.

Swan Light

Preening at the Palace of Fine Arts.

The Hunter

An Osprey on final approach at the Palace of Fine Arts Lagoon.

Egret and Reflections

This Great Egret was stalking the darker edges of the Palace of Fine Arts Lagoon and the slow shutter speed mixed the reflections beautifully.

Pigeon Dinner

Red-shouldered Hawks at the Palace of Fine Arts got accustomed to catching pigeons for a living.

Redshoulder with a Pigeon

A Red-shouldered Hawk with a Pigeon at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Bird Hunter

Caught by the leg and the wing, a Pigeon goes for a ride courtesy a Red-shouldered Hawk. The mobbing Crow caused the hawk to drop its prey and the Pigeon swam to shore and survived.

Evening Redtails

A friend and I went to Stow Lake to see if we could get a glimpse of the normally cooperative owls on Strawberry Hill. The fledglings have grown old enough to disperse and the parents were making themselves scarce so we struck out on Golden Gate Park owls. But much of bird watching is about what you see when you are waiting around for other things to happen, and last night was no exception. We had been tracking a female Redtail who was sitting near what we think is an active nest. The male arrived with a recently caught squirrel and she set off in pursuit to relieve him of his meal. He managed to escape long enough to perch and spend about 10 minutes dining on a nicely exposed branch. Once the female made up her mind, she stopped making her persistent yet quiet begging calls, and launched off her perch, diving toward the male with great intent. He fell over backwards trying to escape his larger and stronger partner and she took over what was left of the squirrel. Above, she relocates with her prize. The squirrel may be hard to recognize because it has been, err… rearranged.


Night at the Museum

Keeping watch for the Palace of Fine Arts Barn Owls you invariably encounter the Racoons who haunt the trees and rocks ringing the lagoon. They roam the edges carefully reaching into submerged cracks seeking out food.


Palace of Fine Arts Barn Owls

After months of seeing evidence of owls at the Palace of Fine Arts, on April 12th Siobhan Ruck and I found the first recorded breeding Barn Owls in San Francisco in nearly a century.