Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bald Eagle at prairie dog town

Last week I saw this Bald Eagle perched on a utility pole just under a hundred feet from the road. I carefully stopped, stayed in my car to use it as a 'blind' and go these two photos. I am happy to report that after I drove off the eagle was still there, undisturbed by my presence. The fun thing about this sighting is this was far from open water (nearby Brush Hollow Res was frozen over)where this species is most often found. Instead it was perched over a prairie dog town, an alternate food source to their more frequent food choice of fish. They do predate on prairie dogs. I believe this eagle is a sub adult IV, or 4th year bird. It has a number of dark markings visible amongst the otherwise white feathers on it's head but has he yellow bill and pale yellow iris found on adult and near adult birds. SeEtta

Monday, January 26, 2015

Williamson's Sapsucker in mid-winter in Red Canyon Park

I drove up to Red Canyon Park yesterday morning and walked too close to a tree with this female Willamson's Sapsucker who flushed literally over my shoulder. She is so well camouflaged I had no idea she was in the tree until she flew out.
I have in the past noticed hundreds of sap wells drilled by sapsuckers in the pinyon and juniper trees in Red Canyon Park just north of Canon City but though I have birded there in spring, summer and fall I have never spotted a sapsucker in the park. Since I found the first Williamson's Sapsucker in Canon City in the winter more than a decade ago many sapsucker have been documented overwintering in the Canon City area, a few other areas in the region, while most migrate south to New Mexico or further for the winter. Though one bird does not confirm that this species overwinters in the pinyon juniper habitat of this park, it certainly seems most likely.
She returned a short time later and I watched her drilling into the deeply pocketed wood of two junipers and a pinyon tree, all within about 75 feet of each other. I drove up to Red Canyon Park yesterday morning and walked too close to a tree with this female Willamson's Sapsucker who flushed literally over my shoulder. She is so well camouflaged I had no idea she was in the tree until she flew out.
As I have experienced with other Williamson's Sapsuckers, this one was not very tolerant of my presence and the slight sounds coming from my camera which caused her to flush from the tree she was drilling. So I had to get into my car and finish my observation and photography using it as a blind.
The juniper below is the tree in which I took all but the very top photo of this bird. Interestingly some of the time when she was drilling in this or the other juniper while I observed I did not hear the tapping noise so common from sapsuckers when they drill into a tree. I suspect it is due to the deep crevices in the bark in some way muffling the noise.
Almost all of the trees, both junipers and pinyon pines, are marked with at least dozens and usually hundreds of sap wells. The very bottom pic is the pinyon pine I observed this sapsucker drilling and it shows the fresh sap wells. SeEtta

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Closer views of that Prairie Falcon--including a view of it's 'choanal slit'

Here are two more pics (and an enlargement of one) of that Prairie Falcon--I took these through my sun roof with my Canon dslr using my 400mm lens and a 1.6 extender (that means it multiplied the image a lot) which takes such good quality pics that I can crop them tighter. The pics above and enlarged below give a good view of the wide yellow eye ring that is found on adult birds that isn't seen often in the field. 
In the bottom pic the falcon has it's beak wide open. I wish I could say for sure if it was just yawning but unfortunately when looking through the viewfinder of dslr cameras such details are not apparent. It does provide a unique view of the inside of it's beak that shows it's 'Choanal slit'--"The slit in the roof of the mouth which connects to the bird's sinuses. " (from the ModernApprentice.com Be honest, I bet most of you are like me and did not know they had such a structure. For a closer view of it just click on the pic as it will enlarge nicely. SeEtta

Friday, January 9, 2015

Pretty Prairie Falcon

Let me note from the git-go that I am pleased to report I took these photos without flushing this falcon from it's perch in a walnut tree about 75 feet above me--I stayed in my car and did my best to avoid disturbing this bird as I try to do with all raptors I photograph. I took a couple of the pics through the sunroof of my toyota rav4. To me it is important to disturb birds the least amount possible and especially birds like raptors that choose perches for good reasons--they can see possible prey and predators. I did use long lens lengths and also cropped each at least a little to get closer photo.
I thought this super close up of it's talons was worth some extra cropping.
Most of the time the falcon did not look at me but when I used my Canon 60d dslr it heard the clicks and looked down-but did not fly. I moved on and saw the bird in the same tree when I got several hundred yards down the road. SeEtta

Harris's Sparrow, a rarish winter visitor to Canon City

I refound this adult Harris's Sparrow earlier this week in Canon City. I had spotted it briefly a few weeks ago but it flew onto private property. There is food resources there and interestingly I saw a Harris's Sparrow there last winter.
The bottom pic is a very backlit photo I got when I first spotted this winter rarity. SeEtta

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pair of American Dippers just east of Canon City

I found this pair of American Dippers over the week-end working from the ice ledge in an irrigation canal. Actually I knew there was a pair when the one bird I was watching was 'strafed' (ie, an attack from low-flying aircraft') by a second dipper and they both flew out to the nearby Arkansas River. This location has had one or a pair of American Dippers every winter for the past several years as well as in the summer. SeEtta

A pair of Greater Roadrunners

I found this pair of Greater Roadrunners south of Canon City day before yesterday when the temps were quite cold (about 20 degrees F). The first two pics show the one roadrunner sunning itself with it's feathers fluffed and it's back to the sun to absorb the solar warmth.
The roadrunner above it the second bird in this pair. According to Birds of North America (BNA) online resident pairs of roadrunners, "Well-established pairs stay on their territory year-round." BNA further notes that roadrunners are found either singly or in breeding pairs.
Both roadrunners that had been foraging in some proximity to each other came together briefly as shown in the bottom pic. (sorry I could not crop the pics further to get them close up but the birds were about 150 -200 feet away)
Below is a brief video clip of the first roadrunner as it moved across the snowy terrain. (I don't know for sure what that sound is as it was very quiet away from town and it may have been my camera which was having problems with the cold) SeEtta

Greater Roadrunner in Colorado in January from SeEtta Moss on Vimeo.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Eastern Bluebirds near Canon City

For several years at least one pair of Eastern Bluebirds has nested near Canon City. Yesterday I found several Eastern Bluebirds on my friends farm just east of Canon City. They were in the company of several Mountain Bluebirds, a mix I have not previously seen. I refound the Eastern Bluebirds today and they were on their own--two males and at least one female though there was likely a second female staying somewhat distant and difficult to see. This eastern species is uncommon this far in south central Colorado while both Mountain and Western Bluebirds are both common in this area. SeEtta