Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bright Wilson's Warblers coming through

Yesterday I found several Wilson's Warblers, including the one in this pic, on the Canon City Riverwalk. These bright yellow beauties migrate through the lower elevations of Colorado on their way to their high elevation breeding areas.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Unusual yard visitors--Green-tailed Towhee, MacGillivray's Warbler & Brown Thrasher

Yesterday brought 3 consecutive surprises in my yard-and all within 10 minutes in mid-afternoon. I spotted the first surprise, a Brown Thrasher, on the ground between my feeders and the water tray. Not only have I never seen a Brown Thrasher in my yard, I also have never seen one in Canon City where I live or even in Fremont County--this species is a rarity here. When I went out to try to photograph it, I spotted a MacGillivray's Warbler flitting through some shrubs near my feeders. I certainly see them on the Canon City Riverwalk and had seen several there yesterday morning but my yard is a bit (not far) off the riparian pathway and in a residential area which would not seem attractive to this species nicely described by All About Birds as a "furtive bird of forest edges and thickets."
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(bottom pic best seen by double-clicking on it to enlarge it)

The third surprise bird was this Green-tailed Towhee--another species I see during migration and had also just seen this morning on the Canon City Riverwalk. While the MacGillivray's proceeded to flit around my yard presumably feeding on insects it found on my plants and the Brown Thrasher flew from one hiding spot to another, the Green-tailed Towhee came out in the open to have a bath as shown in these pics. Actually, it came back out to have 3 consecutive baths. This makes me wonder if the Brown Thrasher may also have been attracted by the water I offer. I spotted all three in about 10 minutes and they were so unusual (and such an unusual combo) I thought I should pinch myself to see if this was real. All three stayed around my yard for about an 45 minutes to an hour. What fun. SeEtta

Probable Cassin's Vireo on Canon City,CO Riverwalk

I found this vireo on the Canon City Riverwalk yesterday and I believe it is a Cassin's, which is a rarity in this area. The top two pics show a lighter shade of gray on the head with an more indistinct margin between the auriculars and the neck area which is consistent with Cassin's Vireo. These pics are also consistent with a drab adult described in The Sibley Guide to Birds with greenish coloration to the secondaries (note: in order to preserve the coloration and shading, the only editing I have done on these pics is to crop them).
The bottom pic seems to show a darker head which would be more consistent with a Blue-headed Vireo but I think this is a result of the shading from the leaves though I did see this in several pics. SeEtta

Colorful Western Tanagers moving through

Yesterday the Western Tanagers arrived on the Canon City Riverwalk including this show-off. I saw several males yesterday, a couple today plus several females today.
Western Tanagers migrate through Canon City in both spring and fall, though their brilliant spring colors make them more obvious now. SeEtta

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dippers bringing food to nest

Both dipper parents were making repeated trips to bring food to hungry nestlings in this nest at Texas Creek. The dipper above has what appears to be some type of worm like invertebrate for it's offspring. In the pic below one of the parent birds has just quickly transferred some tasty morsel of food to the nestlings and is ready to fly back off to find more. SeEtta

Nesting American Dippers

I found the American Dipper nest at Texas Creek, Colorado where I have followed nesting dippers for some years. This was an unusual nest as most along the Arkansas River west of Canon City are built on ledges of bridges. This nest is tucked into a crevice in the cement wall of the bridge and smaller than those I usually see.  SeEtta

Black Phoebe apparently paired with the brown-fronted hybrid phoebe

I observed the brown-fronted probably hybrid phoebe posted just below foraging with, and in close proximity, to this presumptive (all indications are that it is a Black Phoebe but with so many hybrids I consider them presumptive) Black Phoebe. There were no indications of any antagonism between these two phoebes so, in my extensive experience with these birds in this area, I believe they are paired. Note: just to preserve the best possible coloration and shading, I did not edit this pic other than to crop it. SeEtta

Found a brown-fronted probable hybrid BlackXEastern Phoebe in Coaldale,CO

Yesterday I found this brown fronted probable hybrid BlackXEastern Phoebe up the Arkansas River in a tiny town of Coaldale, CO. This location is about 33 miles west of where I had seen my first brown-fronted hybrid phoebe in late March of this year. This bird was about 80 feet away so I wasn't able to get a very good photo and cannot say if this bird looks like the one I saw in March. Due to the many nestings between presumptive Black and Eastern Phoebes in this area, I believe this is a BlackXEastern hybrid and that the brown-fronted plumage is a result of the hybridization. By the way, I did not do any editing other than cropping this pic so it would give the most accurate representation of the coloration and shading. I would add that this phoebe is not nearly as black as most Black Phoebes I have seen and photographed in this area (or other areas for that matter). The brown coloration on the crown of this bird is best viewed by double-clicking on the pic to enlarge it further.
The pic below is the brown-fronted probable hybrid BlackXEastern Phoebe that was associating with a presumptive Black Phoebe near Canon City at the end of March, 2011. It is certainly possible that this brown-fronted hybrid moved up river because I have not been closely checking the phoebes at my friend's place since they looked like they were going to nest and were very sensitive to disturbance. So I don't know for sure if the brown-fronted hybrid I was seeing there has been around for almost a month, plenty of time to move up to Coaldale. It would also be interesting if this brown-fronted characteristic might be occurring more than once as a result of hybridization.  Again, best viewed by double-clicking on this pic too. SeEtta

Other recent Canon City Riverwalk birds

Evening Grosbeak like the one in the top pic have irrupted around the Canon City area for the past several weeks. I found this one at the Canon City Riverwalk but also have them now at my feeders.
Yellow-rumped Warblers like in the other pics have been present on the Canon City Riverwalk and other riparian areas in good numbers over the past 2 weeks.
We get both the Audubon's and Myrtle subspecies here (and throughout the Arkansas River corridor in Colorado). SeEtta

Hermit Thrush on Canon City Riverwalk

I found this Hermit Thrush on the Canon City Riverwalk a few days ago. It's red tail is one distinct feature. These are quite uncommon on the Riverwalk or any other part of the Canon City area. SeEtta