Friday, August 31, 2012

Possible Greater Pewee, pic showing more crest

Since I knew this was a very unusual looking bird when I spotted it, I took a lot of photos (18 pics in less than 2 minutes per the data on my photos). Going back through them I found this one that shows more of a crest, a characteristic of Greater Pewee. SeEtta

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Similar photos of Greater Pewees

Here are a few links to photos that are similar to the photos I have posted below of the possible Greater Pewee:
This one is by the well-known bird photographer Greg Lavaty-the crest on his bird looks a lot like the crest I I photographed in the photo below (note the smudgy undertail coverts, an issue raised today)

This photo taken in Arizona shows very light underparts, a very large bill like on my bird like my photo below and even a pretty large looking eye.

This link shows a photo of a Greater Pewee in Arizona that also shows very light underparts and a small crest.
This photo, taken in Mexico, shows a similar extra large beak and a slight crest.
This bird photographed in the Davis Mountains of Texas shows similar underparts (tho it has a little color in the middle, a location not accessed by my photos) and eye standing out. The bill on this bird is not as large as mine but the crest looks similar. Also good shot showing the tail is not real short but also not very long either.
Another photo taken in Mexico showing pretty washed out underparts.
Here is a photo of a Greater Pewee that was in McAllen Texas in 2010, also shows pretty washed out underparts. It doesn't show much of a crest. And a second photo I took that day of the bird from a different angle showing more color on underparts and more of a crest-points out differences of photos due to differing light and angles of view.

Why underparts of poss Greater Phoebe show little color

One of my friends has expressed questions about the lack of color on the underparts of the possible Greater Pewee photos posted below.  I believe that the lightness is a function of a photographic artifact caused by having to aim upwards towards the sky close to mid-day on a sunny day.   It is a common problem with photography and why many guides warn against taking photos at mid-day.  Here is what one online source with info about photographing birds says about it:  "The most common mistake I see amateurs make is shooting in harsh, direct sunlight, say from 11:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. During that time the sun, if unobstructed by clouds, is too direct, and the result is too much contrast and washed out color."

Greater Pewee field marks from established online sources

Excerpted descriptions from noted sources with my response in {italics}
Cornell Lab's 'All About Bird' webpage for this species states ,
"Adult Description
  Large, stocky flycatcher. {YES}
  Large head with slight crest. {YES, see photo below}
  Drab gray plumage. {YES, on upperparts}
  Faint wingbars. {YES}
  No eyering." >>> {YES, see photo below}


National Audubon Society description on AudubonBirds species website:

"7-7 3/4" (18-20 cm) {?}
Large-headed flycatcher with slight crest. {YES}

Olive-brown above, slightly lighter below.  {LOOKS MORE GRAY}

Small light gray throat patch, {?}

yellow lower mandible, {YES, see photo below}

and indistinct wing bars. {Probably, see photo below}

Olive-sided Flycatcher is similar, but has olive-brown flanks, giving it a "vested" appearance. {NOT VESTED, see photo below}

Wood-pewees are smaller and lack slight crest.">> {LARGER & HAS SLIGHT CREST}

Birds of North America online 'Distinguishing Characteristics:

"Large flycatcher, 18 cm long, mass about 27 g. {PROBABLY}

 Drab, unpatterned gray plumage, darker above, {YES}

tufted crest, {PROBABLY}

no eye ring, {YES}

and bicolored bill (blackish maxilla, yellow-orange mandible)." >>{YES}


Greater Pewee field marks in The Sibley Guide

The Sibley Guide to North American Birds (p.322):  {with my comments in italics}
"Differs from Olive-sided Flycatcher by longer tail, {YES,see photo below}

rounder wingtips, {?}
thinner bill, {?}
and pointed crest." {YES, see photo below}
Sibley also notes a "long notched tail" {?}
and "plain grayish" noting underparts {YES}
plus he states at bottom of page " fall adults are very worn." {reason for lack of yellow on underparts}

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Now considering a pewee species

Ok, so now we are considering wood-pewee. Below is a Western Wood-Pewee I photographed this morning, actually within 50 feet of where I photographed the bird above yesterday. Birds of North America online describes W Wood-Pewee bills: "Upper mandible is black; lower mandible is mostly black, or black-tipped, pale toward base. Gape yellow". That is my experience and what the photo below of a Western Wood-Pewee shows.

A Greater Pewee?

Bottom pic shows what appears to be a long primary projection on a long-winged bird.  SeEtta

Possible Greater Pewee

I found this bird yesterday morning on the Canon City Riverwalk. Greater Pewee is a very rare species for here--it is not even on the Colorado list of species seen in the state. SeEtta

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, nice view of field marks

This photo shows the extensive red that extends from crown to nape of male Ladder-backed Woodpecker, the black stripes on it's face and black barring down it's back.  And it shows the broadly barred on 3 outermost tail feather plus some of the spotting/streaking on it's flanks show here too.  SeEtta

A fairly rare (in Colo) Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpeckers are rare in most of Colorado. Though this species is found occasionally around Canon City,CO where I live, they are hard to find. I spotted one last winter just southeast of Canon City but some years I don't see any around here. So I was delighted to spot this male, appears to be an adult, just southwest of town in some nice cholla cactus. SeEtta

Monday, August 27, 2012

Male Williamson's Sapsucker, why are you here?

This is one of the two male Williamson's Sapsuckers. I didn't see any sapsuckers this morning, but the cemetery employees were mowing and using noisy weed-eaters. So I returned early this evening and had a brief view of one of the male Williamson's. There is some ponderosa pine stands just over 5 miles from the cemetery so maybe this is not too far for this species to fly in to feed in this relatively lush environment. Though I have never found them migrating around Canon City before October, can't rule out that they are migrating through here early and stopped over to feed here. SeEtta

Williamson's Sapsucker-surprise in CanonCity in August

I decided yesterday to look in Lakeside Cemetery to see if any migrating landbirds might have decided to go through there since though there is no lake there is frequent watering of vegetation and lots of trees. I did see a Cassin's Vireo in the canopy of some mature cottonwoods, an insect eater I thought might find this area more productive during our continuing severe drought. However I also found this female plus 2 male Williamson's Sapsuckers, a species that comes to Canon City in fall and stays to late winter. I have never seen them this early here though Birds of North America online states, " In s. Colorado, birds move down-slope in late Aug and early Sep...." More to come. SeEtta

N. Waterthrush, what bright eyes you have

Though the surrounding vegetation made it dark, I don't like to use flash and these non-flash photos show what very bright eyes come out when using natural light as I did. SeEtta

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Handsome Northern Waterthrush

I found this Northern Waterthrush in some vegetation a few feet above the water in the Arkansas River this morning. It appeared to be grooming while several other warbler species including the MacGillivray's Warbler actively fed around it. These photos show how much difference there is when the sun is shining on a bird. More pics in next post. SeEtta

Female MacGillivray's Warbler, stop-over during migration

Yesterday I spotted this female McGillivray's Warbler in the vegetation adjacent to the Arkansas River along the Canon City Riverwalk. Today I found a female MacGillivray's Warbler in the same location so I expect it is the same bird that is making a stop-over to fuel up on insects before continuing her migration.

Yesterday she was alone but today she was actively feeding with several other warblers including the Northern Waterthrush in a post above. SeEtta