Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch(es), too

In the mix of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches I thought I saw one or more Brown-capped Rosy-Finches and I believe these photos, at least the top one, show field marks for a female of that species.  Birds of North America (BNA)online describes these as follows:  "Female similar to male but browns much lighter (contra Clement 1993); feathers of belly, rump, etc., with pink (instead of red) margins that are also narrower and less distinct, or sometimes nearly absent; and crown-patch sometimes less distinct."  


The Essential Field Guide Companion by Pete Dunn notes that female Brown-capped Rosy-Finches "are plainer and lead-colored." He further notes in reference to the Brown-capped species, "the uniformity in plumage and absence of contrasting gray crown distinguish this species."

Clearly these photos show bird(s) without evident pink but BNA indicates that occurs with female Brown-capped Rosy-Finches. SeEtta

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, flock of more than a hundred

Yesterday I drove up to Westcliffe in hopes that the snow there the day before had kept the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches that Jane Pederson had been nice enough to report had been seen on their CBC Sunday at the St Andrew Golf Course just outside of town. As she noted it is unusual to see this species on the floor of the Wet Mountain Valley as this is called as they are usually found at higher altitude (related to having snow on the ground which is what I hoped kept them at this lower elevation, albeit almost 8,000 ft in this high mountain valley).
As can clearly be seen that flock of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches was still there and I got a lot of pics of them though few reasonably good close-ups (though using 50X+ magnification and cropping a few that allowed that to get more magnification) as these birds rarely sit still-either moving along as they feed or flushing as a flock and flying hundreds of yards away and back every few minutes. SeEtta
Nevertheless this good sized flock of well over a hundred birds was most impressive especially as it has been some years since I have seen any Rosy-Finches.

The pic below is illustrative of the other problem in photographing these birds as they most often landed in grassy areas where they virtually disappeared in the stubble.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk, second of the season in Canon City area

I spotted this Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk (dark/intermediate morph) yesterday a little east of Canon City perched in a tree as shown in the top pic. This is clearly a different bird than the first Harlan's I found which had an unusual amount of white on it's face--this bird has some white in the loral area and a white 'streak' around it's forehead.
It also has some white mottling on it's breast and as shown in the bottom pic some bright white streaking on the underside of it's tail. Another very spooky bird, it flushed after I took a few photos of it in the tree from inside my car over 150 away. I was sorry to see it was soon met by a pair of local Red-tailed Hawks that escorted it off their territory. These poor wintering Harlan's must have a hard time finding locations to hunt and rest. SeEtta

Wintering Black Phoebe in Florence River Park

I found this Black Phoebe in Florence River Park today. As is often the case with this species I heard it's 'tsip' call first then found it visually. I hadn't seen any Black Phoebes for awhile in the area but the brutal temps in November likely kept them in the most protected locations where they would find some flying insects to sustain them. A few of this species usually overwinters in the Canon City to Pueblo area every year since the first Black Phoebe for the county that I found in 1995 stayed at least into February and survived one of our worst winters with a low of 18 below zero F that month. SeEtta