Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Long-billed Curlew pics

I took these two pics of one of the Long-billed Curlews as it landed in a field which provides good views of their cinnamon underwing plumage. Besides their unusual physical characteristics, Long-billed Curlews are a special species as they are on the National Audubon Society 'Watch List' as there are thought to fewer than 20,000 birds in total and they lost a lot of habitat. They are listed in Colorado as a Species of Concern. I always feel grateful whenever I find them. SeEtta

Long-billed Curlews in ri

While driving on a county road in northern Otero County, Colo today I spotted a pair of Long-billed Curlews flying nearby. After slamming on my brakes and parking quickly I was able to refind these two and watch them fly back and forth across the county road I was on. They began vocalizing in the very distinctive way of their species. They landed and flew about, then walked about for a bit. Then I saw what looked like a young curlew--maybe 2/3 the size of the parents. The young bird walked with the two adults as they vocalized a lot now. Then they flew off into the grasslands away from the road and I lost track of them and the young bird.
After driving adjacent county roads looking unsuccessfully for the curlews I returned to the original area and found the pair plus two more full size birds (I saw them distantly but I think they were all adults) as shown in the bottom pic as they foraged in tall grasses. All four curlews are shown in that bottom pic so look closely to see all of them. SeEtta

PinyonJays-Salida.avi

This is a short video clip of one of the Pinyon Jays I found in Salida that was engaged in preening while the rest of the flock were moving on. This bird stops to listen to the others but completes it's preening then flies off to join the others. Listen for the calls from the flock. SeEtta

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Very bright Pinyon Jays


Yesterday I found a large flock of 75-100 Pinyon Jays in a sprawling subdivision to the little town of Salida, CO. Included in the flock were birds in juvenal plumage. I watched several of them foraging for pinyon pine seeds on the ground. Every bird I watched took the pine nut to a flattish rock then they jabbed the nuts with their bills to crack them open by using their toes to hold them in position. Apparently they have learned that it is difficult to crack open the nuts on the softer surface of the ground so they use the nearby rocks. As the ground under the pinyon trees was quite rocky, they didn't have to go far to find a rock and this saved the time it would take to go to one of the trees to wedge the nuts in the bark for stability when opening them. Very bright birds.
I also observed these jays cocking their heads like Robins do when they appear to be listening for worms in the ground. This would be followed by a jab into the ground where they apparently were killing invertebrates for food, a behavior described in Birds of North America online. SeEtta