Rare visitors, a pair of Trumpeter Swans

It has been over a decade since Trumpeter Swans visited my county in So Colorado so it was most enjoyable to see this pair at Brush Hollow Reservoir. (to see the rest of the write up and 4 more photos click on Read More below to open the full blog post)
And it was sweet to get to watch and photograph when one of them stretched it's 8 foot+ wingspan, how magnificent.
The pic above shows some of the field marks for Trumpeter versus other species of swans as noted in the Trumpeter Swan Society web page:  "The bill is heavy in proportion to head with a straight profile. Angular head shape somewhat resembling canvasback duck. Eye not distinct from bill." bill."
And the pic below shows the red border on the lower mandible and without the yellow spot in front of the eyes as found on Tundra Swans (which can sometimes have a red border on the lower mandible per the Trumpeter Swan Society website).
Note that I deferred blogging about these swans until they had left as th…


Pronghorn were historically found from Mexico to Canada with a wider range than now (see map of current and historic below--click on Read More). They are the second fastest mammal, only the Cheeta able to run faster.   According to National Geographic, "They can run at more than 53 miles an hour." They prefer open spaces so are frequently found on grasslands like where this one was located as well as brushlands and deserts.   SeEtta

Lewis's Woodpecker, most vibrant woodpecker

I have followed Lewis's Woodpeckers in Canon City for many years as they seemingly come and go from various locations around the area. Last year I couldn't any around town so I have pleased to find a few near one of the many orchards in this area.  They are a species of conservation concern due to habitat loss including competition for nest holes from Starlings.  I love to watch them as their salmon colored underparts are brilliant when the sun hits them.  SeEtta

Blue on blue, Mountain Bluebirds

These colorful bluebirds can be found year round in my south central part of Colorado, sometimes I even see them at a local cemetery on the edge of town. I photographed these birds about 10 miles south of Canon City. Fortunately this species of bluebird is rated as "low conservation concern". SeEtta

Bald Eagle in Bighorn Sheep Canyon

I drove up the Bighorn Sheep Canyon that runs west of Canon City where I live along the Arkansas River two days ago and spotted this adult Bald Eagle perched above the river but not far off the road. I was able to stop and get my photos from about 150 feet away, taking pics from inside my car to avoid risking flushing the eagle. I am pleased to report that after taking pics and driving off the eagle was still perched as it was when I got there.
I took the top 2 pics at 600 mm equivalent focal length and additionally cropped them significantly. The bottom pic is the second pic before I cropped it. SeEtta

Great Kiskadee tongue and more

{note: to see the rest of photos and discussion please click on 'Read More') I rarely get a photo that shows a bird's tongue clearly so I was delighted to find this one provided a nice view of the tongue of a Great Kiskadee, a neotropical species found in the U.S. only in South Texas. I photographed this bird in a water feature at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, Tx at the beginning of the month.
The second pic just above also shows the tongue but in a relaxed position.  Also notice the 'wiskers' on it's bill--they help guide flying insects into it's mouth.
I added this third pic as it more clearly shows the hook on the end of it's beak (actually on the upper mandible). 
While hooks are often used for tearing meat this species usually eats arthropods, mollusks and "...small vertebrates (especially small fish but also tadpoles, lizards, small snakes, and mice)." (Birds of North America online) I guess the hook would help it tear flesh from …

A third local Bald Eagle this week, this one in Canon City

I spotted this immature Bald Eagle about a quarter mile from the Arkansas River on the far east side of Canon City, perched several hundred yards from the road over an agricultural field where a flock of Canada Geese were feeding. I found a somewhat closer road to photograph this bird from but it was about 300 feet away so I had to crop the pic severely to show the plumage. I believe this is a second year eagle in Basic/Sub Adult I plumage for showing these field marks from Birds of North America online: "Crown tan contrasting sharply with blackish-brown ear coverts;" "median and greater upperwing coverts brownish olive and variably mottled white";"most individuals with inverted triangular patch of white mottling on the mantle;". SeEtta