Friday, November 14, 2014

Also a Northern Shrike in Williamsburg,CO

I also found a Northern Shrike in the Williamsburg area. Other birds this morning in this scrub-juniper-cactus habitat included a flock of Mountain Bluebirds and a Northern Flicker feeding on juniper berries (that must have been flash-frozen when the temps dropped 50 degrees from the low 70's Mon afternoon to the low 20's overnight. SeEtta

Ladder-backed Woodpecker drilling cold cactus

I found this male Ladder-backed Woodpecker drilling some tree cholla cactus this morning within the large area encompassed by the small town of Williamsburg, less than 15 miles from where I live. After two nights of below zero temps and daytime below freezing for 4 days including today that cactus was at best very cold and likely frozen. As can be seen the woodpecker had it's feathers fluffed to keep warm in the 20 degree F temperature. Ladder-backed Woodpeckers are uncommon residents in my county (Fremont) as well as nearby Pueblo and El Paso Counties. SeEtta

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yellow-rumped Warblers foraging & warming today @ 12º F in Canon City


I spotted 5 Yellow-rumped Warblers foraging at The Abbey in Canon City today. With the temperature about 12º F there were clearly not a lot of insects about for them to feed on. While I watched the warblers flew under a large branch that appeared to provide shelter and the possibility of warming up by fluffing up their feathers where they were protected from the wind.

In the pics just above and below three of the five Yellow-rumped are perched in the shelter of the large limb with their feathers fluffed up to warm them.
After perching all fluffed up for several minutes these warblers groomed their feathers for a minute or two as can be seen in this brief video clip below:
YRWarblers-12 d F,TheAbbey from SeEtta Moss on Vimeo.
The bottom two pics show one of the warblers perching briefly in the shelter of a building where it had been foraging against the wall for insects (a good place to get them usually).

Note all photos were taken with high zoom (near or at 100X magnification) and then most were cropped some to enlarge the birds more---I stayed in my car and did not drive closer to get better quality photos as I did not want to risk disturbing the birds who are stressed by the exceptionally cold weather. In fact I didn't start my engine and leave when I was done as I was concerned that would flush them so I waited for them to move away on their own. Even though a limited number of Yellow-rumped Warblers often overwinter in the usually mild winter climate here I felt badly for these birds trying to survive in this unusually harsh weather. Getting good bird photos is not in my view more important than the birds' health and welfare. SeEtta

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rufous morph Red-tailed Hawk

It has been awhile since I have seen a Red-tailed Hawk that was not the usual light morph seen in this area. Today I spotted this Rufous morph (Western) Red-tailed Hawk perched off the road in a difficult to see location. Had to turn around and go back to refind and photograph it. Not easily seen is the whitish (could be light gray) underside of it's tail. Though I was a good hundred feet away and stayed in my car, the hawk likely heard the sounds of my camera and flushed. As it flew off I could see the reddish coloration of the uppertail feathers. SeEtta

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Yellow-rumped Warbler, fence sitting

Yellow-rumped Warblers are well known for their 'generalist' abilities-feeding at the top to bottom of a tree canopy, sallying out after a flying insect or foraging on the ground, they are everywhere. However I am used to seeing them in fairly close proximity to trees when not in them: "During winter, Yellow-rumped Warblers find open areas with fruiting shrubs or scattered trees, such as parks, streamside woodlands, open pine and pine-oak forest, dunes (where bayberries are common), and residential areas."
This one was out in the middle of some fallowed agricultural fields perching on a fence near the Mountain Bluebirds-maybe an example of the old saying 'birds of a feather stick together.' SeEtta

Mountain Bluebirds

Mountain Bluebirds are resident in much of Colorado in open areas though they may be wide ranging. In the past week I have seen small flocks of this species in a number of locations around the Canon City area. I photographed these near my friend's organic farm where there are lots of insects for the taking. SeEtta