Saturday, December 11, 2010

Close up view of 'rotor' or wave clouds

I have found these cloud formations referred to as 'rotor' clouds or wave clouds on some of the meteriological sites I have found. Apparently the specific phenomena that produces these is called the "Kelvin-Helmholtz instability" that is related to wind shear likely related to the nearby Wet Mountains and some strong winds that were on their way into the area today. SeEtta

"Rotor" or wave clouds near Wet Mountains in Colorado

I was birding just east of Canon City this afternoon when I spotted these cool clouds. For 45 minutes the clouds formed into what looked like ocean waves, fell apart and reformed. More pics in next post. SeEtta

One more Goshawk pic showing supercilium

I think this pic shows the white supercilium that is one of the field marks of this species. SeEtta

Northern Goshawk in flight

Soon the juvenile Northern Goshawk was flushed by the bird mobbing it and I caught these pics as it flew past me.
Northern Goshawks are noted to use "all types of coniferous forests" during winter according to Colorado Birds by Andrews and Righter. Though the photos lose quality, the eyes can seen by double clicking on the top pic to enlarge eye. SeEtta

Northern Goshawk, a cool find

As I walked back down the dry gulch where I was looking for sapsucker work, I spotted this juvenile Northern Goshawk perched in a deciduous tree on the top of a ridge several hundred yards away. As I took these pics I saw that a bird was harassing the goshawk. More in next post. SeEtta

Another sapsucker feeding tree in dry gulch

This morning I hiked a little over a mile following the dry gulch where I have been following the Williamson's Sapsuckers in the siberian-type elm trees. There were only a few small groves of these invasive elms but I did find trees with what looked to me like recent (not real fresh like they are still being worked but made within the past month or two) sap wells as shown in the top pic. The tree in the top pic is in the small grove in the bottom pic. I did not find any sapsuckers but did see several Juniper Titmouse, some Western Scrub Jays and a lot of Townsend's Solitaires. I was surprised to find 1 young cottonwood with sap wells. These were all surrounded by pinyon-juniper woodlands and though I only looked at only a few dozen of these trees I only saw a few with very old sap wells. SeEtta

Splish, splash, crows taking a bath

The lower pic shows about 40-50 crows in the larger flock that are taking advantage of the water in the Arkansas River. Others perched in nearby trees, shaking water from their feathers and grooming while others flew between the river and the trees. SeEtta

Crows, crows, crows

These American Crows were part of a large flock of about 125-150 that I found just east of Canon City, CO today. Many of them were on a gravel bar in the Arkansas River where they could get a long drink of water and a refreshing bath--both harder to come by in this area due to moderate drought conditions.
We don't see such large numbers of crows in this area often and their presence may be due to the drought as they can find more food and more reliable water in lower elevation area than in the Wet Mountain Valley. SeEtta

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Red-naped Sapsucker

Today was the first time I have spotted this male Red-naped Sapsucker though it was found this fall in Lion's Park in Florence,CO. Though some of this species have definite red coloring of their nape, this one has just a wash of red in his nape area. I was unable to find the female Williamson's Sapsucker I found there several weeks ago. SeEtta

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Running on water: Common Goldeneye

I photographed this female Common Goldeneye today at Brush Hollow Reservoir northeast of Canon City, CO.
The goldeneye flushed but was not fearful enough to fly off, just to 'patter' across the water (and make short low flights) to the far side of the lake--this method of locomotion looks like the bird is running on top of the water. SeEtta

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Feral cat predation on birds--new research

(Washington, D.C., December 8, 2010) A new, peer-reviewed study report titled, Feral Cats and Their Management from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, has put the annual economic loss from feral cat predation on birds in the United States at $17 billion. The report analyzes existing research on management of the burgeoning feral cat population – over 60 million and counting -- in the United States, including the controversial practice of Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR).

“This report is a must read for any community or government official thinking about what to do about feral cats. It encapsulates the extensive research on this subject and draws conclusions based on that data. Not surprisingly, the report validates everything American Bird Conservancy has been saying about the feral cat issue for many years, namely TNR doesn’t work in controlling feral cat populations,” said Darin Schroeder, Vice President for Conservation Advocacy for American Bird Conservancy, the nation’s leading bird conservation organization.

“Communities seeking a solution to their feral cat problems need to consider the science on the issue and the well being of animals impacted by feral cats as well as the cats themselves. These other animals – birds especially – don’t deserve to die at the hands of a predator introduced into their environment by irresponsible pet owners. A humane decision-making process on this issue must also recognize that feral cats live short, miserable lives because of disease, other predators, severe weather and traffic hazards. Thus their life expectancy is about one third as long as owned cats,” Schroeder added.

A key finding of the report was the statement by the authors that they do not recommend the TNR method to eliminate colonies of feral cats. In their extensive research, they were unable to find a single real-world example of TNR succeeding in eliminating a feral cat colony.

Some of the many findings of the report include:
• Feral cats are invasive and pose a threat to native fauna and public health.

• Three separate studies showed that most feral cats (62 to 80 percent) carry the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis – a condition of special concern to pregnant women.

• Cats are responsible for the extinction of at least 33 species of birds.

• Feral cats kill an estimated 480 million birds in the U.S. each year (the study did not address the question of bird predation by owned cats. Studies suggest that there are 80 million owned cats in the U.S. and that 43 percent have access to the outdoors. Total cat predation on birds is likely around one billion birds per year, though some analyses suggest much higher figures.)

• Feeding feral cats encourages them to congregate which encourages the chances of diseases being transmitted.

• The supplemental feeding of feral cats should be prohibited.

• Cats kill far more native wildlife species than nuisance (invasive) species.

• Cats will kill wildlife no matter how well they are fed.

• One reference to TNR success claimed that one particular feral cat colony numbered 920 cats before TNR, and then 678 after. However, when migrations and births were factored in, the colony had actually increased in size -- to 983 cats.

• The life expectancy of a feral cat is 3-5 years as opposed to 15 years for owned cats.
Click for Feral Cat Report

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sapsuckers today: total of 19 in Canon City, CO Area

I started off to just do a count of the female Williamson's Sapsuckers today as there are so many birds it seemed like it would be easier to just count the males and females on different days, but shifts in sapsucker locations changed my plan. The first sapsucker I spotted this morning at Centennial Park was a male, the first time I have seen a male at this location this year. Then I realized there were two sapsuckers in that same pine tree, one a male and the other a female. Sapsuckers do not like to share. The male proceeded to behave aggressively towards the female-he raised his crest and moved towards her, and get this--he gave a churr call then what sounded like he hissed at her. I was only 20-25 feet away so I could hear the interaction fairly well and it sounded like a hiss. (Of course, I can't find anything in the literature about such a sound by this species though I did find that young Red-headed Woodpecker nestlings do hiss.) Anyway, this caused the female to retreat to a another pine tree about 80 feet away. Though I saw 3 female (but no male) Williamson's in Centennial Park just about a week ago, all I could find today were these two.
In addition to this location shift, I could only locate one male Williamson's at Rouse Park and in the location where a second male has been for weeks was a female Williamson's. I also found a second female in the pines on the other side of Rouse Park a location where I had not previously seen female Williamson's this year.

I also located a male Williamson's in some pines in a private yard, a new location, I have checked this week as it looked like a good spot for this species. This supports my belief that there are likely more sapsuckers located on private property where I not able to find them.

In total I saw 10 males again today, though I missed a few I saw yesterday while finding males in new locations today. I saw a total of 7 female Williamson's and have added the female I have watched just outside of Canon City for two consecutive days to the totals. And I saw the male Red-naped Sapsucker today too for a total of 19 sapsuckers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Itchy Cedar Waxwing

While continuing my surveys of wintering sapsuckers in the Canon City, CO area I took a few minutes to enjoy a small flock of Cedar Waxings feeding in hackberry tree in Rouse Park.
This particular bird had a heck of a itch in it's bill area and spent a lot of time scratching as shown in the bottom two pics. SeEtta

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Titmice and chickadees feeding at sap wells

The Juniper Titmice in the previous two posts and the one below are located in trees in the dry gulch near Canon City where I have been following the Williamson's Sapsuckers (that are not feeding in the pines in the urban area of town). They fly in from the surrounding juniper woodlands and flit around in not only the siberian-type (non-native) elms in the gulch but in the tamarisk that are also in the gulch (which is obviously not dry all the time). The titmouse in the top pic has it's bill poked into a sap well.
Also feeding at the sap wells drilled by the sapsuckers in these elms are Mountain Chickadees including the one in the middle and bottom pics.
Note the whitish object in the mouth of the chickadee in the bottom pic--it looks like a grain of rice but I think it may be a insect larva, possibly a bark beetle larva or eggs?

I have also found what appear to be pretty fresh sap wells in some ponderosa pine trees a mile or so from the dry gulch area but have not found any sapsuckers feeding there so far. And I have found at least one additional siberian-type elm tree with fresh sap wells in a dry gulch about a mile away though lower not higher in elevation than the ponderosa pine--so will check these out and more to come. SeEtta

More Juniper Titmice

Juniper Titmouse is listed as a 'species of concern' in Colorado by Colorado Partners In Flight
Though this species is usually associated with pinyon-juniper habitat, it appears to be the juniper part that is most important. Birds of North Americaonline states, "Most common where juniper is dominant and where large, mature trees are present to provide natural cavities for nesting." These birds were in a non-native siberian-type elm tree but in a location surrounded by juniper woodland or lowland juniper habitat that is found surrounding much of Canon City,CO. SeEtta

Busy, busy titmice

These Juniper Titmice are busy little birds, flitting about, making it a challenge to get a photo that is not blurred by their rapid movements.
I caught one of the titmice as it plucked what appears to be a bud off this siberian-type elm tree (this and other non-native elms have many 'buds' still on their branches, possibly due to the unseasonable warm temps we have had in Colorado this fall--including a high of 70 two days ago).
My favorite pic is the bottom one which I caught right after the titmouse shook it's feathers, getting them all fluffed up. SeEtta