Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Blue-throated Hummingbird, oh so regal

Yesterday I had a great time in Cave Creek Canyon near Portal,AZ watching Blue-throated Hummingbirds. They were coming into feeders at both the Southwestern Research Station and at Cave Creek Ranch. There were several of these beauties at each location.
AllAboutBirds.org says, "The largest hummingbird found north of Mexico, the Blue-throated Hummingbird is also one of the most vocal hummingbird species, and its high-pitched, monotonous peeps are a signature sound of summer. They are found in streamside habitats in mountain canyons, as far north as southeastern Arizona, where they are frequent visitors to feeders and usually the dominant hummingbird species. "
They clearly were very large and their calls most distinctive; however, in my limited experience they were not the dominant species at least at these feeders.


While fairly common in Mexico these beauties have a very restrictive range in the U.S. as shown in this NatureServe range map. SeEtta

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Elegant Trogon!

One of my primary target birds for Southeast Arizona was the Elegant Trogon. After abandoning an attempt to find one in Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahuas due to a big thunderstorm I was feeling like I wouldn't see one as everyone said it was pretty late and they were no longer calling. But I ran into a fellow named Elias who told me he had seen one in the Patagonia Mountains just a few days before so I drove up there late this afternoon.
I was walking along the dirt road looking into the trees in hopes of spotting a trogon. I heard barking nearby--but not the barking call of a trogon, an real dog. There is a ranch nearby and I guess it was a ranch dog. At close to 5:30 pm I spotted this male Elegant Trogon about 25 feet up in a tree right by the road so got a couple of close up shots (photos are tightly cropped).
The trogon flew off but I was able to refind it a hundred or so feet away but in a more distant tree from which I got these two bottom pics. I hadn't seen an Elegant Trogon in Arizona for many years so I was very happy to find this one. SeEtta

Friday, September 2, 2016

Broad-billed Hummingbirds at Ash Canyon B&B

These are two of dozens of Broad-billed Hummingbirds I watched at Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast in Hereford, AZ. These males are so colorful from their distinctive red bills to to their brilliant blue and green plumage. I am very happy with how nice these pics turned out--do double click on these pics to enlarge them for even better views. SeEtta

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Common Black Hawk at Bosque del Apache NWR


I spotted this Common Black Hawk perched in the branches of a tree as I drove around the road on the east side of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge this afternoon.  It is amazing how that black plumage blends in with the habitat. 
Common Black Hawk is a pretty rare species whose range in the U.S. is limited to restricted areas of the Southwest.  Birds of North America online states, "... total U.S. breeding population estimated 220–250 pairs." A search of Ebird shows two sightings of this species at Bosque del Apache in the past month, presumably this same bird.
That said a Common Black Hawk was vagrant in my town of Canon City, Colorado for a month in 2006 followed by a short visit in 2007.  You can see that bird on my post about it on my SE Colorado Birding blog that I ran prior to this blog.
SeEtta

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Very large flock of migrating Common Nighthawks

If you enlarge the pic above (just click on it) there are more than 60 Common Nighthawks in that one photo. All in all this flock of migrating Common Nighthawks totaled at least 75 and more likely 100 birds--absolutely the most nighthawks I have ever seen at one time.
Click on this second pic also to see identifiable nighthawks. When I first spotted this flock they looked like a river of birds in the sky and I thought it must be a flock of gulls as I have seen similar flocks flying kind of in a line that were gulls-and I couldn't imagine it was a flock of nighthawks, a species that has been in decline and that I have seen in smaller numbers here year after year.
Though they generally headed down the Arkansas River corridor, smaller groups of them would fly around the area as they foraged. I think the most I have seen before migrating through here was around 12 in 2014 (they flew lower so got better pics).   This was just an amazing spectacle. SeEtta

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Young Rufous Hummer

This is an immature Rufous Hummingbird that stays in my neighborhood and feeds daily on pollinator plants in my yard. All the hummers really like this Sunset Agastache rupestris (Licorice Mint Hyssop) that has trumpet shaped flowers.  In the top pic this hummer was perched on a leaf on the Agastache plant then just leaned over to sip the nectar from flowers nearby.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Tarantula Hawk Moths on pretty native milkweed called Horsetail Milkweed

I found a bunch of this native Horsetail Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata) in the far west part of Canon City. While Horsetail Milkweed is listed as native in Colorado the 'Floristic Synthesis of North America' lists it as a 'Native Species, but adventive in state.' Had to look that up--'adventive species' refers to "a species that has arrived in a new locality" which may have been with help of people or it may not (ie, range expansion). As a native milkweed it is an important plant for Monarch Butterflies as well as other insects.
These Tarantula Hawk Wasps (Pepsis sp., Pompilidae) are some of the largest insects in the U.S. "When a female is ready to lay her eggs, she seeks out a tarantula and injects it with paralyzing venom. She drags the tarantula to a burrow and stuffs it down the hole, then lays her eggs on top of the paralyzed spider. Several days later the eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the still living tarantula." (http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/new-mexico/state-insect/tarantula-hawk-wasp) And they are the New Mexico State Insect (??). SeEtta

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Lark Buntings beginning to gather for migration


In southeast Colorado this past week I found several small groups of Lark Buntings including this one that appear to be gathering for migration. This is a female and I believe she is at least partially in her winter (definitive) plumage (per Birds of North America online, "Plumage similar to Definitive Alternate female, except in fresh plumage, pattern more blended, appearing less grayish brown and more strongly tinged with buff; middle secondaries (S4–S6) edged rusty; and chin without black.") SeEtta