Saturday, July 4, 2009

Two juvenile Black Phoebes

Today I returned to Pathfinder Park where I had seen a Black Phoebe in juvenal plumage two days ago and thought I might have seen a second Black Phoebe. I refound one Black Phoebe quickly and waited a few minutes-then a second Black Phoebe appeared nearby. Both were in juvenal plumage. I stuck around watching them forage but no parent bird appeared so these have apparently reached independence.
I had two juvenile Black Phoebes on a pond at my friend's place last week but they had moved off a few days ago. Since this is less than 2 miles from my friend's place and the timing is right I suspect these may be those birds that are moving around in post-breeding movement. SeEtta

Friday, July 3, 2009

Say's Phoebe with grasshoppers for nestlings

I found this industrious Say's Phoebe carrying food to nestlings under a small bridge in Fremont County, Colo. On two of the trips the phoebe made it carried grasshoppers, a good meal for nestlings. Notice that the grasshopper in the top pic is mostly green.
Now see that the grasshopper in the middle pic is kind of tan colored (mostly) but with blue legs. This can be more clearly seen in the bottom pic which is an enlargement of the other.
Do double-click on each pic for very good super close-up views of the bird and the grasshoppers. SeEtta

Hybrid Eastern/Black Phoebe

Though hybridization between Eastern and Black Phoebes has been discussed for several years, there has been a lack of documentation. I first observed a Black and an Eastern Phoebe attending a common nest more than 5 years ago but was not able to be there when the birds fledged. Since then I have seen several phoebes with intermediate plumage between Black and Eastern that I believe to be hybrids including one, with a Black Phoebe male attending her, that had a failed nesting attempt last month.
I think this bird shows the most overlap of plumage between Black and Eastern Phoebes of any I have seen. Unfortunately this bird was more than 75 feet away so even with my 400mm lens I could't get a great photo. It has as whitish underparts like an Eastern but with some black on chin and throat and more black extensive patches black on sides, flanks than found on an Easter Phoebe plus the black extends into breast and belly areas. This bird sang an Eastern Phoebe song several times. SeEtta

More Black Phoebes

The top pic shows one of 3 Black Phoebe fledglings I found in Florence River Park in Florence, Colo today. This pic clearly shows field marks for juvenal plumage--black head and breast (black back visible in this pic) with white belly and undertail coverts. The bottom pic shows the same fledgling perched next to a parent bird shortly after being fed. This pic is good for showing the difference in tail length between the adult bird on the left and the fledgling on the right as well as the creamy yellow bill flanges and bright orange gape distinctive in fledglings. Both of these pics enlarge pretty good for super close-up views-just double-click on each pic.
Sadly this park used to have a lot of both migrating and nesting birds but the habitat was dramatically changed when they decided to remove almost all of the invasive tamarisk trees at one time (tamarisks were the majority of the understory and midstory, leaving a denuded cottonwood gallery)--a really awful way to treat a good birding habitat. SeEtta

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Black Phoebe Bonanza

(please note that this replaces part of the post I did late last night when I was tired, a time I am prone to making errors, in which I mistakenly identified the bird in the top pic as one I saw without a parent bird)This is another banner year for Black Phoebes in Fremont County, Colo. Yesterday I found the Black Phoebe in the top 2 pics in the Canon City area. It and 2 siblings were being fed by a parent bird as they perched in the overhanging branches, a favorite Black Phoebe habitat.
Although the bottom pic isn't as sharp as the top pic, I have included it as it shows the features of fledglings in this species including creamy yellow bill flanges, orange gape, short wing and tail feathers.

The bottom pic shows a nest with at least 2, likely more, nestlings that I found under a bridge. The nest is attached to the bottom girder on this large bridge that is located in eastern Fremont County. There appears to be at least two nestlings though the head of only one nestling is visible. Note the bright orange gape on that nestling which is less than 8 days old (Birds of North America online notes that on Day 8 these birds have their eyes one forth open and the eyes on this bird are closed tightly). These pics enlarge by double-clicking for super close-up views. SeEtta