Friday, July 29, 2011

Another Salida Swainson's Hawk

I found this adult intermediate morph Swainson's a short distance west of Salida. The third Swainson's I saw that day was more distant so pic not that great--it was another subadult light morph. SeEtta

First of 3 Swainson Hawks in Salida, CO area

I was surprised to find 3 Swainson Hawks just outside Salida a few days ago and this young bird was the first one I found. This area has a history of Swainson Hawks but this seems quite unusual. Since the San Luis Valley which is just over Poncha Pass from Salida is in an 'extreme drought' it is possible that Swainson's that usually use that area have moved up (elevation is around 7,000 feet above sea level here) to where the streams and irrigation ditches are full of water for the hay fields and meadows.
The strong breeze was helpful in separating feathers on this bird. I stayed in my car and used it as a 'blind' to get these pics with my long telephoto set-up (approx 900 mm equivalent). SeEtta

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Help western hummingbirds migrate through fire ravaged Arizona

The extensive wildfire burns in Arizona are creating concern by experts (ie, Southeastern Bird Observatory/Sheri Williamson) for hummingbirds migrating through there as there are fewer flowers for them and it has been suggested that birders in Colorado and other states along their migration routes help by supplying hummingbirds with more food to fatten them up.  I have extracted the following from an online ornithology forum:

  • "The fires are out now, thanks to the arrival of the late-summer monsoons. But over large areas, burned forests now offer much less understory and fewer hummingbird flowers. In what looks like a direct result of missing natural food sources, hummingbirds are being seen in unusually high numbers around towns, according to Sheri Williamson, director of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO) in Bisbee, Arizona.
  • Williamson said she’s not worried about the long-term prospects of the hummingbirds—the forest and its understory will recover. “But we are coming into peak hummingbird migration season in the next few weeks,” she said. “I’ve got a yard full of Rufous Hummingbirds right now and it’s only going to get worse.” She noted that she has seven hummingbird feeders in her yard—about three times the number she usually has this time of year.
  • Williamson has a few suggestions for people who want to help ease the burden on hummingbirds:
  • Locals who don’t presently feed hummingbirds can start feeding them, and people who already do can add feeders for the next few months
  • Coloradoans, Utahans, and others who live farther north along migration routes could try supplying more hummingbird food than usual. “Feed those birds well so they’re nice and fat when they take off,” Williamson said, “Maybe that’ll give them a little bit of a cushion.”
  • [noting that fire will bring better habitat in the long run Williamson said,] "Things are going to eventually be much better for hummingbirds than they have been. But for a while—weeks, months, maybe a couple of years—things are going to be hard.”
So let's all put out some sugar water for those hummingbirds here in Colorado and help fatten them up.  Please post to your interested groups.

You can also help by sponsoring a Kaytee kit giveaway by purchasing the package, for a reduced price, via Amazon. Check Kaytee’s Arizona Hummingbird Disaster Relief site for details. Thanks.  SeEtta

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lewis'sWoodpecker: nice tail views

Just two last pics of this Lewis's Woodpecker bringing food to nestlings that give nice views of the tail. Woodpeckers have very stiff tail feathers that they use to help anchor them to provide stability when engaged in drilling. "The bending stiffness of woodpecker tail feathers is especially high. . . It is this feature that makes them good for bracing the woodpecker against the forces of pecking." (page 9) SeEtta

Lewis'sWoodpecker: is this food white bread?

A former entomologist with the Colorado State Forest Service emailed me that this food item is not an insect or larvae. He said he thinks it is bread. Since the nest is about a quarter mile from two homes plus farm workers in nearby fields may drop white bread, it would certainly be feasible for this Lewis's Woodpecker to opportunistically appropriate some bread thinking it would be easy-food for the nestlings (though likely not a source of much nutrition for them). In the pics showing this food, it certainly has a strange consistency. For much closer views of this food just click on each pic then click on them again. SeEtta

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lewis'sWoodpecker: nestling sneaking a peak

In the top pic the nestling has reached it's bill up to receive food (white stuff) from the parent Lewis's Woodpecker (it's bill is just to the right of the arrow). The bottom pic shows a nestling sneaking a peak between visits by the parent to the nest hole with food. This is first time I have ever seen a nestling Lewis's Woodpecker so I was very excited when I saw this pic in my camera's lcd viewer. The nestling has a hint of the strawberry coloration on it's lower face plus the gray/silver coloration on the neck area that is so distinctive of adult birds. The hatchlings fledged had fledged when I returned 2 days later. SeEtt

Lewis'sWoodpecker: feeding nestlings

The Lewis's Woodpecker is in the process of feeding nestlings inside the nest hole in both of these pics. In the bottom pic it had turned it's back to me so this is a tail-end view of the bird as it inserted it's head into the nest hole. SeEtta

Lewis'sWoodpecker: bringing food to nestlings

This is a parent Lewis's Woodpecker at the nest hole I found recently. In the top and middle pics this bird has some very good size white-colored food it has brought to the nest tree. I believe it is some kind of insect, or extra large larvae, as I could discern what looked like a couple of legs sticking out from it--I would love to find out if anyone could identify it. (this can be viewed close-up by clicking on each pic then clicking again on enlarge pic)
After it flew to the next to the nest hole with the large food item, this woodpecker deposited it in crevice in the tree bark then proceeded to pound on it with it's bill. The bottom pic is when the bird rested during this process and it shows some of the food attached to it's bill--I suppose it was killing it then maybe breaking it into smaller pieces as it proceeded to take small pieces to the nestlings. More to come. SeEtta