Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nestling Swainson Hawks

I found this pair of Swainson Hawk nestlings north of Adobe Creek Res in Kiowa Co. Two adult Swainson Hawks, apparently the parent birds, circled above. SeEtta

Friday, July 31, 2009

Also a Western Snowy Plover

As I noted in my post about the Least Terns, I found a Snowy Plover at Adobe Creek Res. Snowy Plovers are a Species of Concern in Colorado. SeEtta

Pugnacious nest defense by Least Terns

I drove down to Adobe Creek Res (aka Lue Lake) just north of Las Animas, CO two days ago to take advantage of the astoundingly mild temps to do some birding. Usually the temps on the Eastern Colo plains are around 100 degrees in late July, but they only rose to around 80 degrees in early afternoon then dropped to the low 70's as a series of thunderstorms moved through the area. Adobe Creek is one of currently only 2 locations in Colo where Least Terns as well as Piping Plovers nest. Federally listed as Endangered, the area around the locations where they choose to nest are cordoned off to make a nesting exclosure to protect them.
As I stood outside the nesting exclosure looking with my binoculars for nests, I heard then saw one then another Least Tern fly towards me (maybe 50 feet above). When I didn't move away immediately, the apparent tern parent's flew closer to me (maybe 20 feet above me)as they called excitedly. I saw a total of 4 adult Least Terns so there should be at least 2 and possibly up to 4 active nests (though I couldn't see any through my binoculars) Birds of North America online states, "This dainty tern is pugnacious when defending nest and young. Its well-known zwreep call of alarm identifies this tern long before it comes into view." Not wishing to upset them, I left the area and drove to a location on the shore further from the nest exlosure. There were a few shorebirds there including a Snowy Plover (will post those later). Though I was now several hundred yards from the nest exclosure, here came one of the Least Terns calling loudly and diving towards me again! Wow, these are very protective parents. So I had to leave this area.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Raccoon in a tree hollow


While checking for small owls I spotted this raccoon in a tree hollow. As it was still daylight, I interrupted it's nap. As cute as they appear, they are best in wild places like this as they can be very destructive around human habitation. I have an irresponsible neighbor who feeds raccoons and one of them ripped open my next door neighbor dog's shoulder. SeEtta

Black-throated Sparrows refound but not singing

This morning I looked and listened at the location I have seen the Black-throated Sparrows for an hour to no avail. As I started to leave, I spotted two sparrows several hundred yards further east and they were Black-throated Sparrows. I subsequently saw at least 5, of which two were adults and at least 2 were in juvenal plumage, and possibly 6 Black-throated Sparrows at this new location. I have updated the google map to show the new location (link in post below). The top pic is of an adult bird in flight showing it's brownish back and wings nicely.
The other two pics are of a bird in juvenal plumage (both of the bird) showing it's brownish back with coverts and tertials edged in buffy brownish as described in Sparrows of the United States and Canada by Beadle and Rising. SeEtta

Riverwalk chickadee

I did some brief birding on the Canon city Riverwalk this morning before I went looking for the Black-throated Sparrows south of town. I ran into this busy Black-capped Chickadee f2eeding in a small tree next to the trail. It was hard to stand still to take a few pics of the chickadee as the mosquitoes were swarming me, only slightly deterred by the Deet I had just applied to my skin. All the recent rains and hot temps have resulted in lots of mosquito hatches. SeEtta

Black-throated Sparrows-a few more pics

I couldn't help but to put up a few more pics I got today of the Black-throated Sparrows since they came out pretty darn good, especially as they are all hand-help pics with the birds more than 50 feet away (and sparrows are small objects at that distance). The top pic is an adult bird and this pic shows nicely the brownish back feathers over the grayish crown, ear coverts, sides and flanks. I'm not sure if this is the same adult as in the pic in the post below, or possibly the female. This bird was in a snag that the young bird in juvenal plumage in the bottom two pics flew into.
Both of these bottom pics are of the same bird in juvenal plumage, with it's white chin, streaked breast, white eye-crescent and white supercilium. A juvenile chased an adult bird several times, possibly trying to get fed? SeEtta

Link to map showing Black-throated Sparrow location

I can't figure out how to add a map here for the Black-throated Sparrows but here is a link to a google map I put together showing that location. I have marked with the blue line the area in the gulch where I saw the birds. SeEtta

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Black-throated Sparrows again today & singing

This morning I went back to see if I could refind the Black-throated Sparrows I saw yesterday just south of Canon City,CO. It took less than 5 minutes and I heard one singing--a very tinkling but varied song. Birds of North America online states that females have never been observed singing so apparently this is a male. His very black throat stands out nicely in this frontal-view pic. Not a bad pic for hand-held with bird over 50 feet away. SeEtta

Black-throated Sparrows near Canon City,CO

As I drove down a gravel road a few miles south of Canon City this morning, I heard some chirping coming from a dry gulch near the road. I stopped and was delighted to see 4-5 Black-throated Sparrows in a small deciduous tree. At least one was an adult and several were in juvenal plumage with a streaky breast but with a bold white supercilium as shown by the two different birds in these pics (while pics not the best, they will enlarge to show very close-up views--just double-click on each pic).
Birds of North America online notes that Black-throated Sparrow adults " feed young for at least 2 wk after nest departure." So I think there is a very good possibility that this is a new Fremont County breeding location for this species. This is a very nice find as there have only been a few locations in southeast Colorado where this species has been documented breeding and most have been quite far south. I will try in the next day or so to refind them in hopes of obtaining more evidence that this is a family group that has bred nearby. SeEtta
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