Saturday, May 17, 2014

Silver-spotted Skipper

It was hard to ignore this large and colorful skipper today in some weedy vegetation near the Canon City Riverwalk. Though I have read these Silver-spotted Skippers are pretty common I don't having seen them before. SeEtta

Plumbeous Vireo stopped over during migration in Canon City

This is one of several Plumbeous Vireos I heard and/or saw yesterday on the Canon City Riverwalk in lowland riparian forest only about a half mile from my house. It was very busy foraging for food then eating a nice bug as shown. If you click on the photo above you can see the bug much closer for id. SeEtta

Friday, May 16, 2014

Colorful Violet-green Swallows

If you ever wondered why they named these 'Violet-green' these photos will demonstrate that those these birds are violet, blue and green colored.
I took these photos with super zoom and then cropped them a little more to get these close-up views. The weather was a little snowy so light was poor but the birds were perching longer due to the cold weather. This was the day of our big late snowstorm that caused 'fall-out' conditions so there were a lot of swallows that were forced down during their migration. SeEtta

Gray Flycatcher: video clip-- dipping it's tail

This is one of many Gray Flycatchers brought down in 'fall-out' conditions in Canon City, CO by a late snowstorm (I personally found at least 22 Gray Flycatchers). This bird was taped the day after the storm as it perched at Sell's Lake while foraging. It shows the tail dipping distinctive to this species. Interestingly it loses it's balance and almost falls off the perch. SeEtta

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Northern Waterthrush, one of the fall-out birds


I spotted this Northern Waterthrush working some of the overhanging branches at Sell's Lake in Canon City on Tuesday, the day of the big fall out of birds in Canon City caused by the late snowstorm. It kept moving away whenever I had a clear view until it had a lot of little branches between us--it stood still as it appeared think it was now hidden but I found a line of view through to get these photos. I saw one in the same location today, could be another be seems likely it is the same one staying to feed and rest up for it's continued migration. SeEtta

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Storm over but a number of 'empid' flycatchers still here--and my attempt supplemental feeding

When I checked this morning after my class I found 12 Gray Flycatchers in the same locations I checked yesterday. They were all actively foraging but not with much apparent success--it was still pretty chilly so not much insect activity. So I went to the one local pet store in my town for mealworms. They were out of mealworms but I saw they had crickets, which sounded like a better choice for this type of bird. So I bought their last 40 or so 'small' (pretty tiny) crickets. Then came the task of figuring out how to get them to the birds which do not allow close approach. I tried throwing some up in the air near two flycatchers in hopes they would see them wiggle on the way down--didn't look like that worked so I just threw a handfull next to locations I had seen the birds foraging. I think I saw a robin pick up and eat one of the crickets but I needed to drive to the other locations so couldn't just watch.
With the sun out today I got some better photos that show the field marks for Gray Flycatcher better--gray above and white below, very short primary extension, fairly long bill with flesh colored lower mandible but with black tip (shown well in middle pic), eyering and wingbars. An interesting field mark shown well in bottom pic but not often mentioned is the tail has "noticeable white outer edges (especially when unworn; most prominent among North American Empidonax)" [Birds of North America online}. And the very enlarged middle photo also shows that the tip of the upper mandible is crossed over the tip of the lower mandible. SeEtta

Monday, May 12, 2014

'Empid' flycatcher 'fall-out' in Canon City (at least 22 Gray Flycatchers!)

The late season rain and snowstorm that dropped almost an inch of rain and maybe an inch of snow at my house created 'fall-out' conditions that brought amazing numbers of empidonax flycatchers down in Canon City along with lesser numbers of other neotropical migrants.
I birded from the far west end of Riverside Ave including along that road, little Veteran's Park and the Sell's Lake and nearby parking area of the Canon City Riverwalk starting at 9:30 am. All but about a half hour was car birding (as I am trying to recover from a bout of bronchitis and the cold, snowy weather was not conducive to that). The real action with all the empids didn't start until close to noon and went on to late afternoon.
I saw more than 40 flycatchers, mostly empids and of them mostly Gray Flycatchers like the ones shown here. Fortunately they were all actively foraging--mostly in locations that have had irrigation water so insect activity (tho suppressed by the cold) was best in these areas. And the Gray Flycatcher just above got a nice worm. Though as flycatchers they sally out and catch flying insects in the air they also glean insects from bark, foliage and even the ground. SeEtta

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Amazing number of migrating songbirds in my yard last evening

Both a male and female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, first of the year birds, flew between my yard and my next door neighbor's yard. Here is the male eating at one of my neighbor's feeders. I didn't photos of them but my neighbor and I both had Black-headed and Evening Grosbeaks in our trees also--three grosbeak species not just in one day but all three were present between 6 and 7:30 pm when a rush of birds came through.
Last year we had a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeak that spent the summer so I am hoping this pair chooses to stay with us this year too.
These Rose-breasted Grosbeaks really like chokecherry trees, a wonderful native species, in my neighbors' yards and that is what it is perched in.
A number of warbler species worked their way through my trees including several Yellow as well about 30 Yellow-rumped, and 3 Orange-crowned Warblers. And all of these warblers came through my yard and my neighbor's yard between 6 and 7:30 pm yesterday.
I really liked this photo showing the crown and upperparts of a Yellow Warbler that has some chestnut streaking not only on it's crown but even light ones on it's back feathers. Birds of North America online states, "Crown and forehead bright yellow, sometimes tinged or slightly streaked orange or chestnut, usually contrasting with more greenish-yellow nape and back; rump and uppertail-coverts yellow tinged with olive (5Y 3.8/3.0; 35). Back feathers may contain a few obscure chestnut streaks."
And this Orange-crowned stayed very late-it was still feeding at 7:30 pm, dusk. SeEtta
Though not the best photo the bottom one shows an Indigo Bunting high up in my mature honeylocust tree. It was there in the evening and earlier at least one Lazuli Bunting sang from my blue spruce. Not bad for migrating neo-tropicals: 3 warbler species, 2 bunting species and 3 grosbeak species in one day in my yard.

Black-headed Grosbeaks and Gray Catbirds are back in town

Yesterday I walked about a mile of the Canon City Riverwalk while the weather was pleasant. Hadn't walked it in over a week as I have been fighting off bronchitis but this was a great day as it was the first day the Black-headed Grosbeaks were back. Also saw my first Gray Catbird of the year. They usually stay the winter but it was an unusually hard winter and none were seen. SeEtta