Saturday, August 9, 2014

Apparent family group of Olive-sided Flycatchers in mountain area of Colorado

I found an apparent family group of 3-4 Olive-sided Flycatchers on Thursday just southwest of Salida where the coniferous forest was edged by a deciduous riparian area at about 8,000 feet in elevation. There were at least 3 and maybe 4 Olive-sided Flycatchers and to have that many in one location would seem to indicate this was a family. Additional at times more than one of flycatchers perched near each other on a branch of one of the large cottonwood trees. Since it was late in the afternoon the lighting was poor plus the birds either perched high above or at a distance.
The following information from Birds of North America online leaves open the possibility that the birds did not nest in this location: "Fledglings typically observed with adults on territory 10–15 d after fledging, but reported with adults near the nest up to 17 d (Wright 1997) and 19 d (Altman 1999) after fledging. Mearns (1890) suggested that family groups stay together until fall migration, and those nesting in higher elevations move down-slope after breeding season."
The bottom pic show the white feather tufts coming from the bird's lower back, a possible field mark that in this instance was very prominent. Also in that location was a family group of Western Tanagers including at least one fledgling that I observed being fed and a Western Wood-pewee. SeEtta

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a surprise on the far west side of Canon City

Canon City is on the northern boundary for sightings of Ladder-backed Woodpecker but most are seen in the area around Brush Hollow Res east of town. I spotted this bird in juniper/cholla grassland on the far west side of Canon City off of Tunnel Drive Road a location I don't recall them being reported before. Actually the west if Canon City has had sightings on a rare basis over the past 15 or so years but none in recent years. This male worked on a couple of these old wood fence posts before venturing away. SeEtta

Ever-faithful male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher--still guarding the nest tree and no sign of female for 3 days

I didn't find either the male or female yesterday morning-stayed about a half hour then went birding nearby and returned but neither in site. When I got there this morning I spotted the male right off but still no sign of the female. The male spent more than 20 minutes perched to look for prey on the utility line above where I was parked so I got some nice photos from fairly close.
The bottom pic shows the bird with a big grasshopper in it's bill and almost sticking him in the eye. This was one of several he caught and ate before flying back to the nest tree. A raven flew close to the nest tree and this male defended the probably non-viable nest by flying after the raven. It is sad to see this male waiting for the female to return and defending a nest that has been abandoned for too long. SeEtta