Monday, January 24, 2011

Handsome Harris's Sparrows

I found two 1st year Harris's Sparrows yesterday in a field just outside of Florence,CO (a little town not far from where I live). I spotted one perched in a shrub along with some White-crowned Sparrows. After a bit they flew across the road by a ditch and I found there were two Harris's Sparrows.
I watched these birds for an hour and was surprised to see them, and the White-crowns, pick up what was presumably some edible seeds frequently. I guess this was a productive feeding location.
The two Harris's Sparrows appear to be staying together. After all the White-crowns flew off the Harris's Sparrows remained to continue foraging for awhile before settling in on perches near each other inside the shrub for either a rest or possibly for the night. SeEtta

Bushy Bushtits

I was delighted last week to host a flock of 25-30 Bushtits in my yard. I have only seen Bushtits in my yard on one other occasion since I lived in my current house the past 12 years. The Bushtits appeared to feed in my pine trees and pyracantha shrub. When I caught site of this Bushtit, it had apparently just bathed and was grooming causing it to look really bushy (and it was on the other side of my pine tree and it was a cloudy day so a difficult pic to take so not good to enlarge). Because I took this pic through the tree branches, this bird was unaware it was seen or photographed--it shook the water from it's feathers repeatedly, preened fluffed up it's feathers. SeEtta

Wintering sapsuckers: Red-naped

All but one of the sapsuckers I have found overwintering this season in Canon City have been Williamson's except this male Red-naped that I refound where he was previously seen at The Abbey. Some birders might misidentify this male as a Yellow-bellied as the 'frame' around it's throat is relatively heavy for a Red-naped (and some Yellow-bellied have some red feathering on their napes); however, the black frame is broken, at the place where it bends, where some of the red feathers cover it and almost meet the white feathering. Also consistent with it's Red-naped identification is the reduced amount of white on it's back and the clear separation of the white feathering into 2 longitudinal bands (though I find this is not always a definitive field mark). SeEtta

Wintering sapsuckers in Canon City,CO: an update

Before I was out of town for a month on my Rio Grande Valley trip there had been up to 23 sapsuckers wintering in the Canon City area. Since I returned home I have only been able to locate 11. I took the top pic of a female Williamson's Sapsucker today at Rouse Park, a city-type park.
I took the middle pic of another female Sapsucker earlier this week at a private residence. I also refound a male Williamson's at this private location which was hosting both a male and female of this species in November and December. SeEtta

Bighorn sheep in Bighorn Sheep Canyon

To top off a great day filled with Bald Eagles and Pinyon Jays, I spotted this bighorn sheep ewe just as it was getting dark. She and a second ewe were high up the canyon walls on the top of this rock formation. What a wonderful way to end the day. SeEtta

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pinyon Jay flock further up the Bighorn Sheep Canyon

After viewing the Bald Eagles perched, flying or soaring above the Bighorn Sheep Canyon yesterday, I birded in Howard, CO, a small, spread-out town that spans the Arkansas River about an hour's drive west of Canon City. I found a flock of 75+ wandering Pinyon Jays.
These nomads flew as a fairly tight flock from tree to tree, once at a distance of about a half mile. I feel very lucky to find these as this is the second flock of Pinyon Jays I have found this week, the other flock just east of Canon City (I need to get pics of those posted). This species is of significant conservation concern due to habitat loss. SeEtta

Bald Eagle: final sequence of flight pics

In these pics the Bald Eagle has gained altitude and is now more than 150 feet above me as it put on a nice show by soaring around at this lower elevation before joining the other two eagles that were much higher.
After this great show I drove on up the Bighorn Sheep Canyon where I saw more Bald Eagles totally at least 4 and possibly 8 (stopped for lunch so some I saw afterwards may have been the ones I spotted at this location). SeEtta

Bald Eagle: sequence of flying pics continues

These pics follow the Bald Eagle after it lifted off and banked to fly downriver.
The pic below shows how it is gaining altitude. SeEtta

Bald Eagle take off

After keeping an eye, literally, on the birds overhead the Bald Eagle takes off from it's perch.
It banks and turns to fly downriver. SeEtta

What's flying high above the Bald Eagle?

While I was watching the Bald Eagle from the last post with my spotting scope, I wondered why it kept turning it's head to the side with one eye looking downward and the other looking upward. I thought it might be checking for some prey beneath it but I was wrong. It turned out that this pair of Common Ravens in the top pic was flying above and when they flew off I found there was a pair of Bald Eagles soaring high above. So I think it was literally keeping an eye on these birds. SeEtta