Saturday, June 3, 2017

Black-chinned Hummingbird that performed several Display Dives

 Yesterday I watched a male Black-chinned Hummingbird performing several Display Dives that Birds of North America online (fee site) says, "...during breeding season Dive Display assumed to be a component of courtship."  Right after the dives it flew off into the vegetation. While I only saw the hummer in flight I did see the purple band at the bottom of it's black chin clearly when the light hit it just the right way.  I checked references and though this species is present in the Lower Rio Grande Valley during breeding season there are not a lot of records of that. 
 So I returned to McAllen Nature Center tonight at the same time as when I saw the Display Dives last night to see if I could refind this bird.  And I did, it was only a short distance from where I observed it doing dives last night.  Unfortunately it perched high in a snag and with lateness of day (7 pm) the photos did not come out as well as I would like.  I did go get Jaxon Rickel, the new naturalist, and he was able to see this bird as it returned two more times to this same snag.  He and others there can watch for other signs of breeding.
 This bird has an unusual amount of dark feathers on it's underparts for this species but has established field marks for Black-chinned:  head looks black, tail projects slightly beyond wingtips, and purple band on lower throat (observed only).
Below shows the location of the hummer with me shooting photos at a high angle. SeEtta

Friday, June 2, 2017

An amazing congregation of Crested Caracaras

 Another neat find during my car birding exploration yesterday was this amazing number of Crested Caracaras congregated on the ground and in a nearby tree.  First I spotted the 15 Crested Caracaras in the pic above that appeared to be eating but I couldn't see what that could be along this long stretch of dirt.  Then I found more than 30 more Crested Caracaras in this nearby tree for a total of almost 50 of these birds in just a few acres of land. There was a pond nearby but it had few birds on it but it would seem likely there is some good food source for them there (they eat rabbits, ground squirrels, skunks,birds, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, young alligators, fish and large insects per Audubon Birds app).  SeEtta

Let sleeping nighthawks lie..

 I was doing a little exploring and car birding yesterday driving slowly through this little rural town in the Lower Rio Grande Valley when I spotted this nighthawk sleeping on a branch of a tree. Their plumage tends to camouflage them when they roost in trees. Contrary to it's name these birds are most active during dawn and dusk but also may be out during the day and at night.  Since there are Lesser Nighthawks in this part of the country I had to check to see which of the two, Lesser or Common, this was.  I identified this one as a Common Nighthawk given that the white band on it's wings is not beyond the tertials as occurs with Lessers, in fact much before them. 
I do not want to disturb birds especially those sleeping so I took these pics from inside my car being very quiet including using the no-click setting on my camera.  I believe I was successful as it's eyes appeared as closed after I left as when I first spotted it. SeEtta

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

N. Beardless Tyrranulet, a small bird with a long name


This little bird has been a nemesis bird for me-- that is, a bird that has eluded me despite multiple efforts to see it. And it has been being seen by many other birders in the places I looked unsuccessfully for it. Now I did get glimpses of it a few times, but not the kind of viewing that I want for a lifer bird. So I was delighted when I saw the adult bird coming to it's nest at Estero Llano Grande State Park. That sighting only whetted my appetite to find one of these and get a little video as well as better pics than I got at that nest area.

So I was delighted when I heard this tyrannulet singing day before yesterday at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. I got the bottom 4 pics from that sighting but no video.

So I returned today and quickly heard this male bird singing. I got the top 2 pics today and the very short video clip at the bottom.
I really enjoyed watching it grooming which is what it was doing when I got the pic above of it with it's tail stuck up in the air.
This tyrranulet seems to have lighter plumage than the photos of most others on the internet though I did see a few photos that were lighter like this.  And I never saw it raise its crown as is noted to have a slight crest. 
Note the video clip below is very short and a little wobbly (it is not easy to hold a camera with long lens unsupported at a high angle and with the enlargement all tiny movements show up). SeEtta Northern BeardlessTyrannulet, singing from SeEtta Moss on Vimeo.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Baby Chachalacas, surprisingly cute


When I first spotted these young birds climbing in the branches above I had no idea what species they were but the mystery was soon resolved as the nearby adult Chachalacas decided I was too close--so they began their raucous calling and a couple came in near the chicks.
While adult Chachalacas have pretty cute faces, they frequent loud calling which is usually done by multiple birds diminishes their popularity. These young birds did not emit any vocalizations while I watched them for almost 10 minutes.

While these Chachalaca chicks look pretty young they were surprisingly good flyers. The adult birds (one seen in the pic below) flew into some trees about 35 feet away and called for them. Both chicks flew that distance with no apparent problem. I read in tbe nests  and eggs book that young chachalacas' throats become at one month of age so these are just a few weeks old. SeEtta

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bay-breasted Warbler with a beakful

This male Bay-breasted Warbler successfully snagged a good sized insect during a stopover in migration on South Padre Island.  SeEtta