Saturday, August 2, 2014

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in So Central Colorado: only the male, female not seen

I have been out of town a few days so have not gone out to observe the pair of rare Scissor-tailed Flycatchers that have been nesting south of Florence,CO so I was dismayed when I was unable to find the female this morning. I observed the nest tree for over 2 hours and drove by it to look for the female on the nest without success. Though the nest is difficult to see, I do not believe the female could have been sitting on it. I can only suspect that something bad has happened to her. I do not know how long it has been since she sat on the nest as a request for sitings on our state birding listserv produced no sightings since I saw her last five days ago on Monday.
I did see the ever-faithful male who has always been nearby the nest tree on the days I have observed. In fact he would usually fly up to near the nest while the female left to forage. Today I saw him sitting in the nest tree quite awhile, still guarding the nest. SeEtta

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Scaled Quail at John Martin State Park

Thanks to the amazingly mild mid-summer temps (today the highs were in the low 70's down here) after a strange cold front I did some birding in the lower Arkansas Valley where temps are usually 100 or over. Thanks to pro-wildlife habitat changes in the John Martin State Park the habitat has improved substantially--first due to no longer allowing ATV's there as they were tearing up habitat by driving off road (that is why many people buy them so they can drive off road and tear up the ground) and then by closing a lot of duplicative and other user-created 2-tracks that have been used by street legal vehicles but that have fragmented the habitat. Kudos to the local Colo Parks & Wildlife for requesting these changes and to the State Parks & Wildlife Commission for approving them (I went to a Wildlife Commission, some years ago to support the restriction on ATV's).
I was delighted to find 2 flocks of Scaled Quail, a species that is likely doing much better with the improved and less fragmented habitat due to these good changes. Recent rains will help there too so hopefully Scaled Quail can flourish. SeEtta

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rare mid-summer visit from a juv. Broad-tailed Hawk in Florence, CO area

Yesterday I was walking in Florence River Park at the edge of that small south central Colorado town when I spotted this juvenile Broad-tailed Hawk fly by. Broad-tailed Hawks are most often seen in Colorado during migration with most sightings in the spring. This young hawk quickly flew out of view so I did not get very good photos. The top photo shows the profile but not features. So I used photo editing software to lighten up a second similar photo as shown below that now provides a view of field marks for this heavily marked light morph juv Broad-tailed Hawk: dark and very pointed wing tips;; black trailing edge to wings;heavily marked underparts; pale secondaries. SeEtta

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in south central Colo: the female foraging

Yesterday (Saturday) I got the top 3 pics of the female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that is nesting south of Florence, CO when flew near to where I was parked (the driveway several hundred feet north of the nest tree). I watched her catch a couple of insects and could see that at least one was a grasshopper.
The pic below is very interesting both because I caught her in mid-flight so the salmon-pink underwing patches show nicely but also because there is a grasshopper in the air just above her. In a photo below that I took today the female had lost the grasshopper apparently because it's leg came off so this might be the reason for the grasshopper in this pic too.
The next 4 pics that I took today, again when the female foraged near to where I was parked, show a very interesting sequence.
In the pic above the female has a good sized grasshopper in her bill that she has caught.
In the pic now above the grasshopper has come out of her bill--note the grasshopper leg noted below her, it has apparently come off the grasshopper and likely the reason she is now having to re-catch it.
She does re-catch the grasshopper and eats it. Note the bulge starting to show around her throat/gullet in the pic just above. Then in the last pic with her head turned the bulge of the grasshopper being moved down into her digestive tract is quite evident. SeEtta