Friday, October 17, 2008

GreaterWhite-fronted Geese return for winter

Every fall Greater White-fronted Geese return to the Canon City area for the winter season. They are very regular in this area and we have had a small flock of 6-11 every winter for at least the last 12 years. These are a little early this year. I just read that just saw record fall warm temperatures and this species breeds in the Arctic and near it in the NW territories. This is only speculation, but the warm temps in the breeding areas may have caused them to move out sooner as temperature changes effect the food availability. The goose on the left is a juvenile Greater White-fronted. Compare it with the adult Greater White-fronted Goose in the middle and the Canada Goose on the far right--it has a drab bill with no white feathering visible around it's bill yet (per Birds of North America online, this begins in September). Though the juvenile's legs are not as bright orange as the adults, this is characteristic that makes this species stand out among from Canada Geese. Double-click on the pic for a closer view. SeEtta

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Yellow-rumped Warblers

Today I found some migrating Yellow-rumped Warblers, Myrtle subspecies, in the Canon City area. They were foraging actively and making their chip calls fairly often. With the bright sunshine reflecting on their yellow feathers, they appeared quite bright for fall warblers. SeEtta

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Osprey with nice catch


Yesterday I watched this, and a second Osprey, fishing at Brush Hollow Reservoir that is about 15 miles northeast of Canon City, CO. This is an irrigation storage reservoir that has been reduced to less than a forth of it's full size by releases for local agriculture in recent very dry conditions so it's pretty shallow and fishing is good if you are an Osprey. This Osprey caught a good size fish that is visible in both pics. SeEtta

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Confusing ID-IntermediateMorphHarlan'sHawk

Post Note: I have been having some very productive discourse about this hawk with another Colorado birder, Christian. He believes, and makes excellent points, that this hawk may actually be the offspring of Harlan's morph and Western morph hawks.
He points out that there is an awful lot of red this hawk's tail. He further states that little is actually known about Harlan's Hawks as they breed far north where few people can observe them. I certainly have found this hawk educational both in my research into it's identity and in my dialogue with Christian. SeEtta
These are photos I took yesterday of a hawk I saw in Otero County, CO near Rocky Ford. I thought I had seen a light-morph Rough-legged Hawk, albeit an unusually early one for this area--it has a dark belly, streaked breast and the underside of the primaries is whitish. Though the head isn't pale, Ligouri notes that males have paler heads than females. In Hawks from Every Angle, Ligouri also notes that some females can "have extremely heavily marked underwing coverts."
In the field I didn't see the birds legs and feet. However I can enlarge the pics to view them and they are not feathered as would be the case with a Rough-legged Hawk. And there is this reddish caste to the whitish tail (which is darker in the distal area).
This bird does not have scapular lightness like most Red-tailed Hawks, but Harlan's Red-tailed Hawks are often more uniformly dark on top. But it is not the blackish color found on dark Harlan's. Ligouri in an Am Birding Assn article notes that Intermediate Harlan's upperparts are "Solid brownish-black; tends to lack mottling on upperwing coverts."

I was not very familiar with the Intermediate morph of Harlan's Hawk, but when I researched I found that matches this hawk including the facial markings that make the bird look like it is wearing goggles (seen best in top 2 pics but it may be necessary to double-click to enlarge them). It is a bit more brownish than what Ligouri describes but has most other field marks for this Intermediate morph. SeEtta

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cloudless Sulfur butterfly

This Cloudless Sulfur is indeed very large--it's wingspan was at least 3 inches (this species ranges from 2 1/4 to 3 1/8 inches) so it stood out as it flew around a nursery in Canon City I where I was shopping for plants. This species is resident in south Texas,the deep south and parts further south as far as Argentina. Cloudless Sulfurs are only a visitors to Colorado. It's proboscus is easily visible in this pic but it's length is best seen by enlarging the pic by clicking on it. It is taking in moisture from a wet spot on the ground. SeEtta

Clouded Sulfur butterfly

I also found this Clouded Sulfur along the Canon City Riverwalk. Like so many of the butterflies I have seen, it was on rabbitbrush. With about a 2 inch wingspan, Clouded Sulfurs are large enough to be easily seen especially when compared to the many small yellow butterflies. A common species, it is found throughout Colorado and many other states. The proboscus, the (straight dark) tubular feeding tongue that extends from the butterfly mouth, can be seen by double-clicking on the lower pic. SeEtta