Friday, June 26, 2015

Male Dickcissel keeping company with female Dickcissel

So as I watched the Dickcissels flying frequently around the hayfield yesterday it seemed that something was clearly different from previous days with less flying activity. One obvious difference was my observing female Dickcissels on 3 separate occasions yesterday when I had not seen any females on previous days. Each time I observed a female she was in close proximity (usually with a foot or two) to a male Dickcissel.

These two not-so-good pics show one of the occasions when I observed a female Dickcissel and with a male perched close by. Interestingly Birds of North America (BNA) online discusses how males behaves around females as follows: "Male begins almost continuous singing as soon as he is on territory, and when a female settles on his territory, he spends most of his time accompanying her as she forages and inspects nest sites. This close attentiveness persists through nest-building, egg-laying, and incubation, but wanes rapidly after hatching. " [Temple, Stanley A. 2002. Dickcissel (Spiza americana),]

So it seems plausible that the difference I observed was because the females had just arrived and the males were, like the ones I observed with the females, engaged in accompanying them flying around the field as she 'forages and inspects nest sites.' Note today I was not able to get out to watch them until later this evening so add any additional observations at this time. I do hope the females pick sites near the fence or other locations that will not be mowed as there is no way they will have time to nest before this field is cut down. SeEtta

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Dickcissel both close up and out in the hayfield

I have spent at least a little time each day checking on the Dickcissels I found in Canon City last week-end but stayed over an hour this evening as there was a lot of action. The Dickcissels were singing maybe a little more than usual and definitely flying around a lot more than I had previously observed. I saw at least 4 territorial or sexual chases [Birds of North America BNA online defines sexual chases as "Sexual chasing is a rapid flight by male in pursuit of a female that ends abruptly on ground, where male makes physical contact with her and may pull her feathers."]--the chases were fast and too distant for me to tell if both males or male and female involved (I did observe one or more female Dickcissels today so at least one is present in this hayfield).
And the birds were coming to near the roadway to perch in the tall trees that line the fenceline so I was able to get the close-up pic above from about 20 feet away (handholding my camera). I think this close-up shows most all of the field marks for male Dickcissels (from BNA again): "Adult male has a streaked grayish head, a yellowish supercilium, white chin, thin lateral throat-stripe, black throat-patch, bright-yellow breast, light-gray belly, brown streaked back, blackish tail and wing, and chestnut shoulder."
The pic above shows a male Dickcissel singing from a perch on a tall forb out at least 60 feet into the hayfield. Even at this distance it's yellowish supercilium is fairly visible. More tomorrow about the female Dickcissels. SeEtta

Monday, June 22, 2015

Holcim Wetlands flooded by Arkansas River

The Holcim Wetlands have been flooded for the second consecutive year, this time by flooding of the Arkansas River which has reached above it's banks due to big rains and lots of snowmelt. As can be seen in the bottom pic (outlined in grey) the bank has totally been demolished in one section so that the river is just running right through the wetlands and the wetlands are no longer separated from the river in that area. Due to the flooding it is closed and will be for some time. Very unfortunate as this is has a history of some very rare birds including previous breeding Least Bittern. SeEtta

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Singing Dickcissel

As Canon City is at the western edge of the breeding range for Dickcissel we do not get this species every year. A few did show up and right at the same time as when I had them in 2013. However they have not been cooperative in perching close to the road so I can photograph and video them. The above is the only pic that was reasonable and the video clip below is very short (and shaky as it was breezy)--but Dickcissel are fun to listen to.

Dickcissel singing from SeEtta Moss on Vimeo.