Friday, May 11, 2012

Western Bluebird pair carrying food


This morning I birded the Canon City,CO Riverwalk for a bit and found this pair of Western Bluebirds in a field where they were foraging, often close to each other. I watched to see if they had a nest nearby as a pair had nested not far from this location last year. After almost 15 minutes I observed one then the other take off with food in it's bill, flying high up into a grove of trees presumably to feed nestlings in a natural nest hole there. I tried to find the nest site in this wooded area that has a lot of good nest holes in several trees but the area is being flooded with water.

While I was watching I saw this long strand of apparent nylon line that was attached to a stick on the ground then sent about 80 feet up into a tall cottonwood where it was stuck--I guess it is some strong kite line. Most years a pair of Cooper's Hawks nests in this area and I didn't want to risk a young hawk not seeing it in time and injuring itself on this very strong line so I tried to pull it in hopes it would break off from the tree. No such luck, it just bit hard into my hand. So I tried letting it wrap around me while I turned around and around, but it still didn't break and it was hurting me even though it was on the outside of my coat. So I had to cut it with my nail clippers and take the section I had home with me.

While I was tied up in this line the female bluebird flew onto a tree only about 15 feet away. I had to carefully free one arm so I could get the photos of her that are posted here. I also saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler and my first of the year Wilson's Warbler fly nearby while I was incapacitated. SeEtta

Glossy Ibis, a bird's just gotta scratch

Those long nails and toes come in handy when an ibis has an itch. SeEtta

Glossy Ibis near Florence, CO

I found this apparent Glossy Ibis earlier this week in a flock of about 90 White-faced Ibis feeding in a flooded field in Florence, CO. It appears to have the field marks for Glossy Ibis:  dark eye, light blue border (does not wrap around eye) to loral skin,
I had some concerns that the plumage does not have the iridescent purple green gloss field mark for Glossy per Sibley and Crossley in their field. In fact the plumage looks the same on this Glossy as well as the two White-faced Ibis next to it. I have been advised by two highly respected birders that "iridescence differences are unreliable". SeEtta

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eastern Phoebes building nest


While looking for spring migrants at Tempel Grove north of Lamar, Colorado on Sunday I spotted a pair of Eastern Phoebes building a nest--well, actually building at least two and possibly more nests on ledges under a small vehicle bridge over the Ft Lyon Canal. I observed a phoebe work on each of two nests and I saw more partially built nests that they might also be working on. This type of behavior has been observed before as reported by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies: "females were seen attempting to build as many as 15 nests in a season before completing one (Smith 1942)." All of these nests were 'statant' nests; that is, they were built on supporting ledge as opposed to 'adherent' nests that are 'plastered to a vertical surface.'

One of the pair was a first spring bird and the other appeared to be in adult plumage. I do not recall seeing any Eastern Phoebes building nests when I frequented the Tempel Grove area last spring. SeEtta

Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Black-chinned Hummingbird


Last Friday I found this first of the year Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding near also first of the year Indigo and Lazuli Buntings. Though less colorful than her male counterpart, this adult female Rose-breasted Grosbeak has a subtle beauty. It was interesting to see the bold stripes on the top of her head in the bottom pic.

Further down the Canon City Riverwalk where I found the others, I found this first of the year Black-chinned Hummingbird, also a female--see her long bill. SeEtta

Summer Tanager, brillliant red

Yesterday I drove 150 miles to a migrant trap in Bent County, CO. The winds were strong and gusty so birding was challenging. This hotspot had it's usual good numbers of resident Gray Catbirds and American Goldfinch plus several Swainson's Thrush that are common migrants through here. At least one Warbling Vireo serenaded in competition to the sound of the winds. Several of each Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers foraged with the latter working the ground out of the winds. I spotted a warbler with white on it's tail but did not refind for identification until later when a female Hooded Warbler popped up briefly. The only other rarity was this Summer Tanager which can be seen in the lower photo as bright red but having greenish feathers on wings and tails which identifies it as a first spring/summer male. A very slow day for this location during spring migration. SeEtta

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bright spring plumaged Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers can have such bright colorful plumage during spring as this Audubon's sub-species has. This is one I saw at Tempel Grove in Bent County,CO. SeEtta