Saturday, October 24, 2009

Birds and other species will be affected by climate warming

This is a very good video researched and produced by the Univ of Colorado's Learn More About Climate outreach project. As Colorado's climate continues to warm, there will be less water not only for us but also for streams and vegetation that will impact many species including birds. I strongly recommend it to anyone who lives or visits or cares about Colorado. SeEtta

Friday, October 23, 2009

Interesting, suspected sub-adult, Rufous-crowned Sparrow


As can be seen in these pics, this sparrow has a reduced amount of rufous/rusty coloration on it's crown (but with a definite black outline next to the rufous/rusty), grayish/brownish supercilium, grayish/buffy underparts (one photo shows some short streaks on the underparts), brownish (light rusty?) post-ocular stripe, some white submoustachial stripe, but with only a hint of a malar stripe and an indistinct eye-ring that is visible on two of the pics.


Though this bird might be mistaken for a sub-adult White-crowned Sparrow, those birds do not have the white submoustachial stripe that shows on this bird to some degree in all three of the photos nor the black outling the more reddish crown. Beadle and Rising's Sparrows of the United States and Canada describes juveniles as follows: "(May-Oct)--Crown brown with brown streaks; side of face brown without distinctive markings but distinct dark brown malar stripe; breast and flanks thinly streaked with dark brown; belly perhaps with some streaking." They describe first fall birds as occurring from June to November and resembling adult birds "but are more buff-colored." The bird I saw clearly is lacking distinct facial markings (though a dull eyeline can be seen in 2 of my photos) and there are short streaks on the underparts visible in one photo. I suspect this is a sub-adult Rufous-crowned Sparrow that may be transitioning from juvenile (with streaked underparts) and first fall/Basic I plumage. SeEtta

Canon City's Rufous-crowned Sparrows

Yesterday morning I found a small group of at least 3 and possibly 4 Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a specialty species that was found in the Tunnel Drive area of Canon City on a Christmas Bird Count about 10 years ago. Though this species is not known to migrate, we only see this species from around October through April or so. (I suspect they move higher up in the canyon gulches common to the Tunnel Drive area to breed, but that is only speculation.) So these were the first of the season birds here. I thought the bottom pic was quite interesting--I caught the bird as it flew down on a big rock though it looked more like jumping down with a little wing assist. Features can be seen up close by double-clicking on each pic but be aware the quality of pic deteriorates (hey, these photos were taken at more than 75 feet and the camera was handheld)
Interestingly, in my experience these sparrows are almost always found in the company of some of the many Canyon Towhees that inhabit the shrub and pinyon-juniper studded rocky hills that are at the mouth of the Royal Gorge canyon. From what I have read, they are often in small family groups for an unknown period of time after breeding so I suspect the birds I saw, which were in fairly close proximity, were likely a family group.
One of the sparrows had rather dull, indistinct markings. I suspect it is a sub-adult Rufous-crowned Sparrow, possibly transtioning from juvenal to Basic I/first fall plumage. See next post. SeEtta

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pectoral Sandpiper at 8,000 feet


Yesterday I took advantage of outstanding warms temps (up to mid 80's in Canon City and lower Arkansas River area) to go up to the Wet Mountain Valley. At 8,000 feet in elevation, the temps were in the low 70's in the afternoon. I saw this Pectoral Sandpiper in Lake DeWeese, an irrigation rservoir near Westcliffe.

I found this Pectoral Sandpiper feeding in water that at times was up to it's belly. Though this species is noted to feed in dense vegetation, there is none near the water. This bird was wise to feed away from the shore since several ATV's drove, illegally, along the shoreline twice while I was there though I don't know if this was the reason this sandpiper was in such relatively deep water. Note the reddish base to the bird's bill which is clearly shown in the top pic (for a closer view just double-click on the pic). Most websites and field guides note a yellowish, greenish or brownish base to the bill. I did one website, GreenNature.com, noted a reddish or even orangeish base. SeEttaPhoto above is of one of the mountains in the Sangre de Christo range that flanks the Wet Mountain Valley on it's west side.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Egrets at Quivira NWR

These are some of the many egrets that were still at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in early October as I meandered my way home through Kansas. The egret in the top pic is a Cattle Egret that was feeding in the vegetation right next to the road.
The wild-child Snowy Egret in the middle pic was suffering a bad hair day due to strong winds.
I took the bottom pic of a Snowy Egret with beak wide as it hunted in a slough adjacent to the road. SeEtta