Customer Appreciation Night at FRBC

Just over a week ago we had a great time with our customers! Bill Eden gave a fantastic presentation showing his Tanzania photo safari. Also HawkQuest! brought in 4 live owls of the world,  Zeiss supplied a great pair of binoculars for a door prize. All that along with burgers, brats, beans, and beer from our bbq on the back porch.

Check out the action in these appreciation night photos:

HawkQuest!

 

Eurasian Hawk-Owl
Spectacled and Barn Owls

kathy-neely-2

Kathy Neely wins a pair of Zeiss 8×32 Terra ED binoculars!

Bill Eden (below right) gives presentation on Tanzania.

bill-eden-1
Be sure that you are on our email list to learn about all of our events!

Tagawa Gardens, Oct 8, with Chuck Aid

Dear Front Range Birders,

Tagawa Gardens, a beautiful and extensive garden center, is adjacent to a series of open space properties along Cherry Creek just upstream from Cherry Creek State Park, and on Saturday thirteen of us explored some of the immediate environs to see what birds we could find. The good part of all this was that we had a great group of participants and the weather was glorious. However, as one person noted, “The birds didn’t get the memo.” There were few to be seen, and we tallied only 16 species (see list below).

We noted that the male Mallards are largely done with the eclipse phase of their molting, and we saw only one that was still a bit mottled looking. The others were wonderful with their new breeding plumage that they will now carry through the winter. Just a reminder that when in eclipse plumage bill color is perhaps the easiest way to tell a male from a female. Note the solid yellowish bill of the males, while the female’s bill is orange with a splotch of black on top. All photos are courtesy of Bill Schmoker.

mall2mall1

We also had great looks at a pair of adult, light-morph, Red-tailed Hawks. Note the all-dark head, the lightly streaked belly-band, the dark leading-edge of the wing (this is diagnostic), and the “bulging secondaries” (this is where the trailing edge of the wing gets a bit wider). Oh, yeah, it also has a “red” tail, telling us this is an adult – juvenile tails are finely banded without the red.

rtha_ad13

There was a very cooperative female Downy Woodpecker. Note how the length of the bill is much shorter than the width of the head, there’s a conspicuous white tuft right behind the bill, and there are little black bars on the outer tail feathers.

downy_woodpecker-female

Finally, we saw a few beautiful Western Meadowlarks.

weme24

Remember to have your bird feeders ready to go for feeding the birds this winter, and, that when you’re ready, the Front Range Birding Company will give you the best prices when it comes to optics!

Good birding!  Chuck Aid

 

Tagawa Gardens, Oct 8, 2016

16 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  1

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  15

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  28

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  13

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  7

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  8

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  11

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  5

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  40

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  4

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  6

Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  2

Wheat Ridge Greenbelt, Oct 1, with Chuck Aid

Well, it seems as though a major part of fall migration has been completed for many species. Twelve of us covered a lot of ground at the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt this past Saturday, but we were only able to come up with 27 species (see list below). Absent from the area were Double-crested Cormorant, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Cinnamon Teal, Spotted Sandpiper, Hummingbirds, Flycatchers, Swallows….. Well, you get the idea. These are species that have largely moved on south.

Of course, another aspect of fall migration is those birds that bred farther north, and that will retreat south to spend the winter here in Colorado. Many of these species just haven’t arrived yet in any numbers, but we can still be on the lookout for them, e.g. Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser, Rough-legged Hawk, Merlin, American Tree Sparrow, and the winter Juncos.

In the meantime we’ve got a bit of a hiatus, and this mild fall weather is keeping things a bit quieter for a while.

So what were Saturday’s highlights? We had a few Gadwall – these are early arrivals that will spend the winter here (photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker).

gadwfly4-1

We had only one Robin, the majority seem to have moved on out. Perhaps the most interesting observation was of a begging Lesser Goldfinch, meaning that a pair are raising fledglings pretty late in the year.

So, 27 species isn’t like we got skunked, but we will hope for a bit better action on our upcoming walks.

Good birding!  Chuck Aid

 

Wheat Ridge Greenbelt, Oct 1, 2016

27 species

 

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  48

Gadwall (Anas strepera)  11

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  31

Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  6

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  3

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  2

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  2

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  37

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  3

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  3

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  3

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  10

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  3

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  11

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  5

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  3

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  17

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  1

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  16

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  12

Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  17

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3

Hudson Gardens, September 24, with Chuck Aid

Eight of us explored the relatively quiet avian world at Hudson Gardens on Saturday. It was not until we had been out for a couple of hours that we saw any Passerines (perching birds), other than Blue Jays, and we ended up with a list of only 20 species. At this time of year there is a lot of migrant movement going on, but we were not lucky enough to pick up on much of it. We did get to see one lone female American Wigeon (all photos courtesy of Bill Schmoker),

AMWI14

a few Cedar Waxwings, and a couple of Barn Swallows

BARS2

all of which were possibly migrating through, but we can’t say for sure. They might have been around all summer. An interesting observation was how variable the male Mallards are looking with some still in complete eclipse plumage and others well on their way to regaining their brilliant breeding plumage. We saw no sign of the family of Wood Ducks that were around at Hudson Gardens for much of the summer.

We look for more exciting birding this coming Saturday, Oct 1, at the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt. I hope to see some of you then!

Good birding!

Chuck

 

Front Range Birding Company

20 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  12

American Wigeon (Anas americana)  1

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  40

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  25

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  2

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  7

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  6

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  2

Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  2

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  3

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  3

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  4

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  1

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2

Barr Lake, September 3, with Chuck Aid and Chip Clouse

Twenty-six of us got out to Barr Lake on September 3, and ended up tallying 38 species (see list below). The highlights were a MacGillivray’s Warbler seen in the hand at the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies banding Station and a Solitary Sandpiper in the Farmers’ Canal.

MGWA4

SOSA9

Photos courtesy of Bill Schmoker.

Good Birding!

Chuck Aid and Chip Clouse

 

Barr Lake 9.3.16

38 Species

 

14 Mallard

30 Western Grebe

30 Western/Clark’s Grebe

80 Double-crested Cormorant

150 American White Pelican

36 Great Blue Heron

20 Snowy Egret

6 American Avocet

14 Killdeer

13 Baird’s Sandpiper

1 Solitary Sandpiper

3 Franklin’s Gull

35 Ring-billed Gull

2 Osprey

1 Swainson’s Hawk

1 Red-tailed Hawk

2 Eurasian Collared-Dove

2 Mourning Dove

3 Downy Woodpecker

1 Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)

1 Western Wood-Pewee

2 Western Kingbird

1 Eastern Kingbird

2 Black-billed Magpie

1 Blue Jay

3 Barn Swallow

6 Black-capped Chickadee

2 House Wren

1 MacGillivray’s Warbler

1 Yellow Warbler

3 Wilson’s Warbler

1 Blue Grosbeak

1 Western Meadowlark

1 Song Sparrow

1 Lincoln’s Sparrow

1 Western Tanager

6 American Goldfinch

5 American Goldfinch

20 House Sparrow

Hudson Gardens, August 27, with Chuck Aid

Eighteen of us enjoyed perfect weather at Hudson Gardens this past Saturday, as well as enjoying some interesting bird activity. There were still juvenile Wood Ducks at the wetlands, although their number has diminished from five to three – all males. The male Mallards are still in eclipse plumage, with no evidence yet of their breeding plumage reemerging.

We saw an individual Blue-winged Teal, which I have tentatively identified as a male in eclipse plumage. This is based on: 1) the almost black coloring of the bill (as opposed to slate-gray), 2) the absence of obvious eye-arcs (which females tend to have), 3) the drab coloration on the flanks (feathers on female flanks are edged in a light beige – almost white), and 4) the faint white facial crescent tending to extend above the eye-line. However, this is a really tough call to make, and perhaps more information than you wanted, right? For those of you that got a good look at this bird please give me your input.

In the photos below the male is the second one.

BWTE female BWTE Eclipse

We had great looks at Cedar Waxings, which were so numerous that we had to duck at times. Note the difference between adults and juveniles.  Photos courtesy of Bill Schmoker.

CEDW12 (1) CEDW11 (1)

Finally, the highlight of the day was getting to watch a Cooper’s Hawk dismember a smaller representative of the Class Aves; after which it went into digestion cycle, and just sat on the same branch for the next hour or so.

COHA

Hope to see you on another Front Range Birding Company walk soon!!

Best, Chuck

 

Hudson Gardens, Aug 27, 2016

28 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  18

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  3

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  17

Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)  1

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  5

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  1

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  2

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  5

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  4

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  2

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  7

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1

Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  7

Plumbeous Vireo (Vireo plumbeus)  1

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  2

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  2

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  8

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  1

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  2

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  38

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  4

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  27

Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  2

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  6

Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield with Chuck Aid, August 6

Fifteen of us braved the perfect weather on Saturday morning, and made the brief drive from The Front Range Birding Company over to the Denver Botanic gardens at Chatfield without mishap. The morning was perfect, and we ended up recording 42 species (see list below).

Highlights were numerous, fast, and furious. We got to see a voracious Pied-billed Grebe subdue a crayfish and gulp it down. An adult and juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron gave us both profiles as they flew past us first this-a-way and then that-a-way. A Broad-tailed Hummingbird harassed an American Robin that couldn’t pay it any mind because it was busy harassing a Cooper’s Hawk. A Swainson’s Hawk dive-bombed another Swainson’s forcing it to drop the vole (gopher?) it was carrying. Juvenile Say’s Phoebes were our representative dull-colored, difficult birds to identify for the morning, but we had plenty of time to work it all out. A juvenile Western Kingbird was incredibly pale compared to the adults (photo courtesy of dwfurbanwildlife.com).

WEKI1

A massive flock of juvenile European Starlings gave me pause for a minute – so unlike the adults (photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker).

EUSTjuv1

And a male ‘Black-backed’ race of the Lesser Goldfinch sent everyone scrambling for their field guides – supposedly more common farther east, but we get them around here with some regularity (photo courtesy of txtbbatamu.edu).

LEGO

The bird show was a good one, and the Botanic Gardens is a good place to catch it!

Best regards, Chuck Aid

 

Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, Aug 6, 2016

42 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  10

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  1

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  1

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)  2

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  1

Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)  4

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  17

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  2

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  6

Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)  1

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  7

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  2

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  5

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1

Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  6

Cordilleran Flycatcher (Empidonax occidentalis)  1

Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)  2

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)  3

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  2

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  20

Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  2

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  7

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  3

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  6

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  9

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  33

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  40

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  2

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  5

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  3

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  6

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)  2

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  22

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  28

Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  13

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  9

Hudson Gardens with Chuck Aid, July 30

Thirteen of us spent Saturday morning in and around Hudson Gardens.  In this period of post-breeding, things were a bit slow, and we only recorded 27 species (see list below).  However, we still managed to see a variety of interesting birds.  First of all, a month ago on the last Hudson Gardens walk we recorded a female Wood Duck with five little ducklings.  This time, while we did not see mom, we did once again see the five ducklings, which are close to adult size now, and a couple of them were starting to show the beginnings of the male’s spectacular plumage.  We also noted at least one juvenile Canada Goose.

Looking at Mallards we had to once again talk about eclipse plumage.  A reminder that eclipse plumage is when male ducks at the end of breeding season molt from their brilliant breeding plumage to a dull, cryptic plumage.  As the Birder’s Handbook says, “Their brilliance is dimmed – they go into ‘eclipse.’”  This all happens at the same time that the main flight feathers are moulting, and some ducks actually become flightless for a few weeks.  It makes good sense, if you are temporarily flightless, that it might be to your advantage to be more cryptically colored.  The duration of the eclipse plumage varies between species, lasting for some just a couple of weeks, and for others persisting into early winter.  With the next molt the brilliant male colors return.

One interesting thing to contemplate in all this eclipse plumage business is to think about the inherent advantages in remaining cryptically colored for a longer period of time versus regaining one’s brilliance more rapidly. To be camouflaged longer is to be less visible to predators; while to regain breeding plumage more rapidly is to have a “leg up” on impressing the females, but may be deleterious if you really can’t quite fly yet.

Here are an eclipse plumage male Mallard (http://www.photosbygregstrong.comand) and male Wood Duck (https://wickershamsconscience.wordpress.com). Note the bill color in both – a give away that you’re looking at males.

MALL Eclipse

WODU Eclipse

Another highlight of the morning was that we got to see a pair of juvenile Cooper’s Hawks hanging out in the cottonwood grove just downstream from Hudson Gardens. I believe that Cooper’s Hawks have been successful breeding in that same grove now for the last four years.

On a personal note, this has been a great year for Hummingbirds at my house. Lots of zipping around and high drama!

The next Front Range Birding Company bird walk is going to the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield this coming Saturday, Aug 6. Please call the store to register – 303-979-2473.

Good Birding!  Chuck

 

Hudson Gardens

Jul 30, 2016

27 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  35

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  5

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  18

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  5

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  10

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  2

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  4

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  3

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  5

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  4

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  7

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  2

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  1

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  3

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  25

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  12

Evergreen Audubon’s Breeding Bird Atlas

 

Evergreen Audubon began the Bear Creek Watershed Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) in 2008, and like other BBA’s that are conducted world-wide we are engaged in an attempt to provide information on the distribution, abundance, habitat preference, and breeding success of birds in a specific region.

Currently in its ninth year, Evergreen Audubon’s BBA focuses on the local breeding bird community throughout the Bear Creek Watershed – from Mount Evans to the South Platte River. Within that vast area we have focused on 45 parcels of public land where we look for any signs of breeding: from singing males setting up territories, to courtship behavior, to nest building, to finding recently fledged youngsters. This article is to help you gain familiarity with our atlas website, and to walk you through a few fun pages of the website related to our progress thus far.

When you open the website http://www.bcwbba.org, here is what the Homepage looks like, and if you click on the Progress tab at the top you will be taken to the initial Progress page (see below).

Atlas Home

 

Progress all areas

This initial Progress page summarizes the amount of time that has been expended in the 45 different public lands, and how much time overall has been spent in the field on a yearly basis. You can see that some areas have received far more attention than others (Bear Creek Lake Park with over 140 hours, and Bergen Park with less than 8). This discrepancy is due to our small pool of volunteers, the individual enthusiasm with which some folks embrace this project, the amount of time they can afford to spend in the field, and the emphasis that we choose to place on some locations and habitats over others.

From this screen you can then click on one of the green bars in the bar graph in order to learn more about a specific area. For example, here’s a portion of the screen that comes up for Flying J Ranch telling you that 71 species have been recorded, and that we’ve been able to confirm breeding there for Broad-tailed Hummingbird (nest building) Williamson’s Sapsucker (nest with young), and Red-naped Sapsucker (fledgling). If you were then to scroll through all 71 species, you would see that thus far we have been able to confirm breeding at Flying J for 29 species.

Progress Flying J

By scrolling to the bottom of that page you can also see who has entered data for Flying J and the date that they were there.

Progress Participants

One of the more interesting aspects of the “Summary” pages is found by going to “Summary by Species.” There, you can bring up maps for each species known, or suspected, to breed in the watershed. For example, here’s the map for American Dipper. The red makers indicate where we have confirmed Dipper breeding, and you can click on any of the markers for additional information related to that sighting. No surprise that the red markers are primarily along Bear Creek, with one on Cub Creek. And, though there have been additional sightings along Upper Bear Creek, nothing thus far indicates breeding that far up the valley.

Progress AMDI

Here is the map for Mountain Chickadee, a species that we know well, and for which we have been able to document breeding throughout the watershed in various habitats from 6500 to 11,500 feet.

Progress MOCH

In contrast, here is the map for Pine Grosbeak. We have found them at higher elevations in Spruce-Fir Forest, but have yet to document breeding, again largely a factor of our limited volunteer pool.

Progress PIGR

Here’s another one of our high elevation species, Golden-crowned Kinglet. We do see them occasionally at mid elevations, but when it comes to breeding they prefer dense Spruce-Fir Forest. The three confirmations below are from Beaver Meadows, Beartrack Lakes Trail, and the Elk Management Area. Again, when you are actually on the website you can click on the various markers to obtain this specific location information.

Progress GCKI

Next is our map for Western Tanager. While they have been recorded in the edge of the foothills and up in the Elk Management Area, our map confirms that they prefer to breed in the foothills and lower mountains, with a preference for Ponderosa Pine Forest.

Progress WETA

Finally, here is our map for Bullock’s Oriole, which breeds in riparian forests of the plains and lower foothills. Our farthest west confirmation on the map below is from Lair O’ the Bear.

Progress BUOR

I encourage everyone to visit our Breeding Bird Atlas website and enjoy more of these maps. While there you can also find out more about what a breeding bird atlas is, and learn how we go about our business in the field.

Meyer Ranch with Chuck Aid – July 2

Dear Front Range Birders!

It was an interesting morning this past Saturday.  It had rained much of the night in the foothills, and when I arrived at Meyer Ranch for our bird walk I was wearing my full rain outfit.  Then, things cleared up sufficiently, though still with a bit of that “accumulating ominous” look on the horizon, that I ditched the rain gear.  Six folks then arrived, having driven up from the Front Range Birding Company, and we had a fantastic bird walk, tallying 29 species of birds (see list below).

The lower portion of Meyer Ranch is noteworthy because of the expansive area of wetlands and sub-irrigated pasture that create a wonderful habitat for Wilson’s Snipe, Red-winged Blackbirds, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, and Song Sparrow; and then there’s generally extensive ariel feeding going on by a variety of swallow species.  All in all a good show for the initial part of our walk.  The following sparrow songs are from Xeno-Canto.org.

Vesper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Then, as we got across the open space and up into the “timber,” we had good luck with a number of other species.  In particular, it’s one of the better areas I know for having a good Hammond’s Flycatcher seminar.  Visually, this member of the Emidonax genus (who all look almost identical), has a small, dark bill; a “squared-off” head-shape, and long primary wing feathers (making the tail seem a bit short).

Hammond's_Flycatcher_PabloLeautaud_FlickrCC-314

Once you’ve been suitably overwhelmed by the difficulty of making a definite visual identification, it helps significantly if the bird vocalizes.  This is its song (from Xeno-Canto.org).

You end up trying to use all the clues you can get to identify these guys, and one additional piece is the habitat where they’re found, which tends to be lush, closed-canopy, coniferous forest – primarily high-elevation Spruce-Fir forest, but in the case of Meyer’s Ranch they are found in Ponderosa forest and dense Douglas-Fir forest with a mix of spruce and aspen.

Fortunately (I’m being fecetious), in the mountains of Colorado there are, for the most part, only two other members of the Empidonax genus that you have to also consider as possibilities.  Here are the Cordilleran Flycatcher and Dusky Flycatcher.

Codilleran Flycatcher

dusky-flycatcher (1)

So, there’s always more for us to be learning in this bird identification game.  Isn’t it great!!!

Good birding!

Chuck

 

Meyer Ranch Open Space

Jul 2, 2016

Front Range Birding Company

29 species

 

Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  2

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  7

Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)  1

Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  2

Hammond’s Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii)  4

Cordilleran Flycatcher (Empidonax occidentalis)  3

Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  1

Steller’s Jay (Interior) (Cyanocitta stelleri [diademata Group])  2

Common Raven (Corvus corax)  2

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  1

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  40

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)  5

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1

Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea)  3

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  5

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  2

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)  5

Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)  3

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  5

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)  1

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  3

Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed) (Junco hyemalis caniceps)  3

Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)  1

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  5

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)  1

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  12

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  2