Thursday, November 27, 2008

A real water bird

American Dippers spend their lives in and around water. They feed almost entirely on aquatic insects and "occasionally other invertebrates, small fish, fish eggs, and flying insects" according to "Birds Of North America" online.This dipper has been in and near the Arkansas River on my friend' place just east of Canon City, a location where 1-2 dippers have wintered the past several years. Last week this dipper flew towards me as it chased another dipper, likely in a territorial dispute. As it chased the other dipper, it sang some of a melodic tune then launched into it's rattle-call (similar though higher pitched than the rattle of Belted Kingfishers) Double-click on the pic for a closer view. SeEtta

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cooper's Hawk at sunrise


Yesterday morning I got out in the cold (lower 20's) to do some birding before sunrise. I caught this adult female Cooper's Hawk in the warm glow of the dawn sunlight.
I included the bottom pic because it shows the head profile--squarish appearance of head that is distinctive from rounded smallish head on Sharp-shinned Hawks. Other field marks not apparent in pics but were visible in the field. Double-click on pics to enlarge them. SeEtta

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers return for winter

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, a woodpecker usually found in the eastern United States, have been wintering in Canon City every year since November, 2003. They have also wintered in Pueblo for a number of years beginning before this. Subsequently they have been found wintering at the Lakeside Cemetery and Centennial Park most years, and in a few other locations in the Canon City area occasionally. Most members of this species migrate south to the southeastern quarter of the United States, southward to Panama and the West Indies in the winter with females generally migrating further south.

The top pic shows most of the field marks for this species: relatively narrow black stripes on head; complete black border framing the throat; broad white stripe crossing upper part of nape; large white wing patch; red forehead and crown with black border; black bib on upper breast; and extensive white barring on back. Females like this bird have all white throats. The middle pic provides a less commonly seen underside of this species. The bottom pic shows the upperside of their tail feathers. Pics can be enlarge for close-up views by double-clicking on them.


Sapsuckers drill holes, called "sap wells", in trees to drink sap and to eat the cambium of the tree. They also eat arthropods (a group made up of insects, arachnids, and crustaceans) and some fruit. In Canon City I find most sap wells in pine trees, especially Scots pine which appears to be a favorite of not only Yellow-bellied but also Red-naped and Williamsons Sapsuckers which also winter here. SeEtta