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

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

 

Hudson Gardens with Chuck Aid – June 25

Fifteen of us had a great outing at Hudson Gardens this past Saturday. The weather was not too hot and we recorded 35 species of birds (see list below).

Things were hopping from the outset. Before I could even introduce myself we had a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk calling from a nearby tree, and a female Wood Duck with five youngsters in tow right below the Cooper’s.

Another highlight as the morning progressed included either a single American White Pelican cruising by periodically, or a few different individuals doing the same. We also had great looks at the “golden slippers” of a very cooperative Snowy Egret. Photo from http://www.bioexpedition.com

Snowy_Egret_3_600

We saw four species of swallows, including nesting Tree Swallows in a box at the south end of the wetland area. I was surprised to not see more Cliff Swallows as in the past they have nested in large numbers (100+) under the Bowles Ave. bridge over the South Platte. I guess their young have already fledged and moved on, but it seems a bit early to me.

Perhaps the most interesting observation was of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks that were hanging out side-by-side for much of the morning. One was a typical light-morph western Red-tail – the one we see the most frequently, but the other one was a darker intermediate-morph with a gorgeous, rich rufous (rusty red-brown) breast – photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker.

RTHArm8

Finally, the last bird of the morning was the most colorful – a male Bullock’s Oriole.

1y7a7953-net-oriole-bullocks-bob-zeller

It was a wonderful morning! Hope to see you soon on another Front Range Birding Company outing.

Good birding!

Chuck Aid

 

Hudson Gardens, Front Range Birding Company

Jun 25, 2016

35 species

 

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  13

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  1     1 female with 5 youngsters

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  23     Several females with young

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  8

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  1

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  1

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  2

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

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  4

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  9

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  4

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  3

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  8

Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  4

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  1

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  2

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  5

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  7

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  3

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  4

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  3

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  26

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  3

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  19

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  13

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  18

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  2

Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  1

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  3

Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  1

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3