Hudson Gardens Bird Walk March 27, 2021

Hudson Gardens Field Trip – Mar 27, 2021 8:00 starting time

Led by Patti Galli

Wow, what a great start this morning! The weather was beautiful – sunny skies with the early temperature hovering around 35 degrees and it just kept getting nicer as the morning went along. Spring is almost here, and with it the migratory birds not far behind. Our first birds were House Finches with their joyful chatter and the American Robin.

American Robin photo by Bill Schmoker

We spent some time looking at the American Robins, since this is one of our most familiar birds, with its lovely rusty-orange breast, uniform dark gray upper side, and dark head.  Some in our group hadn’t noticed before its white markings around the eyes. The American Robin ( Turdus migratorius ) name is the affectionate diminutive of Robert. The name Robin is also associated with at least three particular favorites: Robin Hood, Robin Goodfellow, and Robin Redbreast.

Green-winged Teal photo by Bill Schmoker

We worked our way down to the South Platte river to see if any ducks are were still here. This time of year our wintering ducks start making their way north to their breeding grounds. Turns out there were still a few left to look at. The Gadwalls, American Widgeon, and Bufflehead ducks still gave us one more good glance.  Our year round ducks of course such as the Mallards, Canada Geese, and one last fun surprise- the Green-winged Teal treated us as well!  

The Green -winged Teal is our smallest duck.  The male has a dark rufous head with green patch behind the eye, a white belly, and white bar on the side of the breast. The female has a rather dark, indistinctly marked faint eye ring and dark line across the check.

 

We finished up at the bird feeders, where we sat and watched Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, and hearing in the distance, the loud sounds of Red-winged Blackbirds.

Truly a wonderful morning!

eBird Report: Hudson Gardens, Arapahoe, Colorado, US
Mar 27, 2021 8:00 AM – 10:50 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     Led trip for Front Range Birding Comp/Hudson Gardens . Cool 32* start , no wind , sunny , beautiful morning
22 speciesCanada Goose  15
Gadwall  11
American Wigeon  8
Mallard  20
Green-winged Teal  2
Bufflehead  7
Ring-billed Gull  5
Belted Kingfisher  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Say’s Phoebe  2
Blue Jay  2     heard
Black-billed Magpie  2
American Crow  5
Black-capped Chickadee  10
Bushtit  9
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2     heard
European Starling  6
American Robin  10
House Finch  11
Dark-eyed Junco  3
Song Sparrow  1     heard
Red-winged Blackbird  25View this checklist online at https://ebird.org/checklist/S84222379

Hudson Gardens Feb 27, 2021

Leader Patti Galli, nine participants. Sunny, clear and 24 degrees at 8:00 starting time.

It turned out to be another beautiful Colorado morning.  The temperature was indeed wonderful and we spotted a total of 23 species.We saw several common visitors in and around the area. Most of our group really considered themselves asbeginners, but they all turned out to be good spotters. 

We made our way to the South Platte river and saw many of our winter visitors. They were beautiful! We got a real kick out of the Canada Geese. We laughed as this behemoth bird made a cracking, crunching sound as they walked on the ice. This bird is an incredible flyer and a great survivor as well!  The Canada Goose (not Canadian) was once esteemed as “ the noblest of our waterfowl,” and bred mostly in Canada and in Alaska. It used to migrate until man interfered with this pattern – they are now found almost everywhere and are often considered a messy nuisance.  However, the Canada Goose  didn’t expand its range on its own; it had human help. Beginning in the 1950’s it was introduced throughout the country to ensure there would be plenty to hunt- so there you have (some of) it!

Canada Geese photo by Bill Schmoker                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

The challenge is almost often ducks, such as the American Wigeon. We saw a perfect adult male in breeding plumage, with its green patch leading back from the eye, white forehead, brownish breast and flanks, white belly, black undertail and uppertail coverts, and a green speculum bordered with black.

American Wigeon Photo by Bill Schmoker

What is a covert feather? A covert feather on a bird is a set of feathers, which as the name implies, covers other feathers. They help to smooth airflow overthe wings and tail. It’s one of the many things to help ID a bird. And a speculum? The speculum is a patch, often distinctly colored, on the secondary wing feathers of some birds.

 

Red- Brested Nuthatch photo by Bill Schmoker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent some time too looking at Buffleheads, Ringed-necked duck, Gadwalls, and the Common Goldeneye. We ended our lovely walk with the sounds and sights of Black-capped Chickadees, House Finches and two adorable Red – breasted Nuthatches, which was a favorite as well! We’re looking forward to spring as we’ll welcome our spring migrates, but it’s nice to enjoy our year-round birds as well, for there is no such thing as a common bird!

Hudson Gardens, Arapahoe, Colorado, US
Feb 27, 2021 8:00 AM – 10:20 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.4 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     Leader myself, Patti Galli , and 8 participants. Sunny start , no wind 24*
22 species (+1 other taxa)Canada Goose  100
Gadwall  5
American Wigeon  3
Mallard  4
Ring-necked Duck  3
Bufflehead  8
Common Goldeneye  7
Ring-billed Gull  5
Accipiter sp.  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  2
Black-billed Magpie  1
American Crow  4
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Bushtit  1
Red-breasted Nuthatch  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
European Starling  7
American Robin  2
House Finch  12
Dark-eyed Junco  2
Song Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  2View this checklist online at https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Febird.org%2Fchecklist%2FS82440316&data=04%7C01%7C%7C562834325d3f40ccd92d08d8dd17aa40%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637502441000545620%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=WqZJlYwv4Y3iQzAa8UMLxKf4CBOAH8FucZ%2BPEyYwMo0%3D&reserved=0

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Hudson Gardens Bird Walk January 30, 2021

Hudson Gardens Field Trip – Jan 30, 2021 , 8:00am start time
Led by Patti Galli
 
Our Saturday morning at Hudson Gardens was sunny and beautiful. As sometimes typical for January birding in Colorado, it was also a quiet start. The birds must still have been sleeping!  That was ok though, we enjoyed slowly walking the grounds exploring and making our way to the South Platte River to see who may be in the water. We found the river loaded with Canada geese, Mallards (beautiful healthy looking males), Gadwalls, and gorgeous Buffleheads.
 
Buffelhead (c) Bill Schmoker
 
 
In addition, a muskrat was spotted.  We crossed to the other side of the river and were greeted by  dozens of Black-capped Chickadees and the happy sounds of American Robins. It was still way too early for Spring, but our feather friends seemed to be getting ready.
 
 
 
 
The fun find of the day was a large flock of Bushtits. The Bushtit was formerly classified in the family Paridae along with chickadees and titmice, which it resembles in behavior. Later, Bushtits were reclassified into their own species. The name of its genus- Psaltriparus – is a combination of the Greek word psaltria, an ancient stringed instrument played with a bow or a plectrum; and the Latin word parus (a titmouse).  They were so named for the birds’ high-pitched calls that resembles the notes of a psaltery.  So next time you hear the name, I bet you don’t giggle as much!!
 
Brown Creeper (c) Bill Schmoker
 
 
female Bushtit (c) Bill Schmoker
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Our final sighting was a Brown Creeper! We logged a total of 21 species, not bad!  It was a great morning enjoyed by all!
 
Hudson Gardens, Arapahoe, Colorado, US
Jan 30, 2021 7:45 AM – 10:20 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     I lead trip in behave of FRBC for Hudson Gardens, nice morning , no wind , about 37*
21 species

Canada Goose  35
Gadwall  4
Mallard  15
Bufflehead  5
Ring-billed Gull  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  3
Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay  1
Black-billed Magpie  8
American Crow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  15
Bushtit  14
Brown Creeper  1
European Starling  1
American Robin  2
House Sparrow  10
House Finch  11
Dark-eyed Junco  3
Song Sparrow  2
Red-winged Blackbird  3

View this checklist online at https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Febird.org%2Fchecklist%2FS80147440&data=04%7C01%7C%7Ccb4538d85e974d05d93508d8d144dc7a%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637489440966542333%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=pqTwh%2BdoBoVv699KArj%2BPgkol2bslaMijcOS4tfpunI%3D&reserved=0

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Meyer’s Gulch Bird Walk 7/13

Pygmy nuthatches. Photo by Jamie Simo.

We couldn’t have asked for a much better trip to Meyer’s Gulch at Walker Ranch. The Meyer’s Gulch Trail took us through some of the best preserved examples of the native ecosystems where the Rocky Mountains and foothills meet in Boulder County. Of course, aside from the amazing views and wildflowers we saw an awesome assortment of birds.

On the first segment of the hike we got the opportunity to see and hear many Pygmy nuthatches. These tiny nuthatches are among the smallest in their family at only 4 inches long and with a body weight of only 10 grams. What they lack in size, however, they make up for in personality as they are gregarious, noisy and hyperactive. We also got to see two species of sparrow: the Vesper sparrow and the Chipping sparrow. The Vesper sparrow is a grass-loving species with a white eyering and outer tail feathers while Chipping sparrows are easily distinguished from other sparrows by their rusty caps, gray bodies, and black lores and beaks. We also got fleeting views of a beautiful Green-tailed towhee, a less common cousin of the Spotted towhee known for its unmistakable olive-yellow wings and tail. 

Fledging Red-naped sapsucker. Photo by Aidan Coohill

Some of our best birding happened in the willow carr next to the old mill. We quickly re-found the Red-naped sapsucker pair that I had found scouting for this trip and were able to see not only them but their fledgling young as it practiced scaling a ponderosa and foraging just like its parents. We were also treated to good views of a Cordilleran flycatcher, one of the more colorful Empids, and a fascinating bird that inhabits the cooler and damper slopes of arid forests. Other birds here included many House wrens, a single Pine siskin, both species of goldfinch, and a singing Plumbeous vireo. 

On our way back to the parking lot we continued to get great views of a male Western tanager and plenty of Western bluebirds. Sarah, by some miracle, found a lone Red crossbill sitting on a spruce far off in the distance. Thanks to a handy scope, most of the group was able to see the bird and its distinct beak that earns the species its name.

In the end, our trip netted us 30 bird species in all. Such a great day!

I would like to extend a special thanks to the amazing Sarah Spotten for helping me out on my first bird-walk with FRBC and all the great folks who joined us!

-Aidan Coohill

Hudson Gardens, May 25, 2019

When your walk starts with great looks at Cedar Waxwings, you know it’s going to be a great day!  We saw a 3 of these gorgeous birds hopping around low in a tree, then visiting the small stream behind the Visitor’s Center.

This spring, we have seen and heard many reports of Western Tanagers so we were on the look-out for them, as well as the vibrant Bullock’s Oriole.  We were not disappointed!

In addition to these colorful birds, we also saw a couple of spunky House Wrens, busily hopping in and out of a wood pile, most likely looking for nesting material or a snack.  Nearby, we saw a nestbox full of sticks – a sign of a busy wren!  Males build several nests in the spring, perhaps as decoys, but also to give the female a choice of nest sites.  Never fear – the wrens don’t lay eggs on a pile of sticks and hope the babies don’t fall through the cracks.  Once they’ve selected a nest to use, they build a soft cup for their eggs. Wrens are larger-than-life characters – they are tiny birds that sing loud and long, and seem to have the energy of the Energizer Bunny.

 

We saw several Yellow Warblers that seemed to follow the same path as us for a bit, foraging in the tree canopy.  We all got to experience “warbler neck,” that painful feeling you get from looking straight up in a tree for warblers.  I’m considering, and I’m only half-joking here, a post-birding yoga session.  Perhaps there is a “downward bird” pose, or maybe “hunting heron” that will help us stretch out our necks?

 

Near the end of our adventure, we saw two Snowy Egrets and eventually got a good look of their black legs and yellow feet.  Word on the street is Snowy Egrets will use those yellow toes like fishing lures. They wiggle them to attract fish, and then snatch up whoever unwittingly takes the “bait.”   Makes me wonder how many times they snatch their toes in the process.

 

Til next time,

 

Jennifer O’Keefe

 

Western Tanager (C) Bill Schmoker
Bullock’s Oriole (c) Bill Schmoker

Species List

Blue-winged Teal                             2

Mallard                                               20

Common Merganser                        1

Mourning Dove                                 1

Broad-tailed Hummingbird           2

Double-crested Cormorant            2

American White Pelican                 5

Great Blue Heron                             1

Snowy Egret                                      2

Egret spp.                                           1

Turkey Vulture                                  1

Accipiter spp.                                     1

Red-tailed Hawk                               1

Western Wood-Pewee                     1

Black-billed Magpie                         2

Cliff Swallow                                      35

House Wren                                       2          

American Robin                                8

Cedar Waxwing                                 4

House Finch                                      5

American Goldfinch                        1

Chipping Sparrow                            3

Song Sparrow                                    2

Bullock’s Oriole                                5

Red-winged Blackbird                    50

Common Grackle                             7

Yellow Warbler                                 5

Western Tanager                             2

 

 

 

Front Range Birding trip to Minnesota and Sax Zim Bog

Who goes to Minnesota in January? If you want to see Great Gray and Snowy Owls then traveling to the Sax Zim Bog just outside Duluth, Minnesota is a must. Front Range Birding helped, along with Sheridan Samano of the Reefs to Rockies travel company, to lead a small group of intrepid birders to this cold north location to see these and other great boreal birds. 

Top left and top center – Great Grey Owl!  Top right – Snowy Owl!    Score!!

Bottom left – The drive into Sax Zim Bog      Bottom right – Our group from Colorado, Delaware, and New Jersey. 

Considering the weather, and dead of winter time frame, the number of birds seen was quite impressive. Most in the group picked up multiple life birds for their lists. The temps were very tolerable and brought out many of the Minnesota winter residents. Aside from our target birds pictured above, of note were the Black-backed woodpecker, White-winged crossbill, Bohemian waxwing, Pileated woodpecker, Boreal chickadee, and Golden-crowned sparrow.

We loved our stay in Duluth, Minnesota at the historic Fitger’s Inn which is located in the vintage 1885 renovated Fitger’s Brewery. The shores of Lake Superior offered great views and ambiance and all of us had a fantastic time. Thank you Reef to Rockies for setting up this trip!

Our complete list of birds seen is below.

  1. Mallard
  2. Common Goldeneye
  3. Ruffed Grouse
  4. Sharp-tailed Grouse
  5. Wild Turkey
  6. Bald Eagle
  7. Red-tailed Hawk
  8. Rough-legged Hawk
  9. Thayer’s Gull
  10. Rock Pigeon (feral)
  11. Snowy Owl
  12. Great gray Owl
  13. Downy Woodpecker
  14. Hairy Woodpecker
  15. Black-backed Woodpecker
  16. Pileated Woodpecker
  17. Northern Shrike
  18. Gray Jay
  19. Blue Jay
  20. Black-billed Magpie
  21. American Crow
  22. Common Raven
  23. Black-capped Chickadee
  24. Boreal Chickadee
  25. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  26. White-breasted Nuthatch
  27. American Robin
  28. European Starling
  29. Bohemian Waxwing
  30. Dark-eyed Junco
  31. Golden-crowned Sparrow
  32. Pine Grosbeak
  33. White-winged Crossbill
  34. Common Redpoll
  35. Pine Siskin
  36. American Goldfinch
  37. Evening Grosbeak

Our partnership with Reefs to Rockies is great and we are planning many more trips with them. Next up is a visit to the Sandhill Crane Capital of the World – Kearney, Nebraska March 25-27, 2017. Be sure to visit Reefs to Rockies website for details on this trip. Also sign up for our newsletter on this website to learn more about this and other great trips with Front Range Birding!

 

South Platte Park, February 4, with Chuck Aid

Well, Saturday was another great day of birding. Eleven of us went to South Platte Park, where the winds calmed down and the temperature warmed up quite nicely.  We started by looking at the orange legs of female Common Mergansers.

Photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker

Our first enthralling bird of the day was a female Northern Harrier, which flew down from a nearby tree with prey in its talons, and landed out in the open on the edge of Blackrock Lake. We were able to watch her for some time as she ate her breakfast – possibly a pigeon or a coot. The photos below are not of our bird, but they give you an idea of what we saw. Note the owl-like facial disc, the white both above and below the eye, the streaking on the upper breast and nape, the long banded tail, the white rump, AND the prey (in this case a Green-winged Teal).

Photo courtesy of Rob Raker
Photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker

Then, we were most fortunate to see my target bird for the day, Greater Scaup, which are uncommon wintering bird in the interior of the continent, preferring salt water along both coasts. However, they have been occurring regularly at Blackrock Lake over the past three winters, and we were able to see eight of them. Distinguishing Greater Scaup from Lesser Scaup, which occur regularly here in the winter, is one of the trickier IDs, and I hope our group didn’t tire of my trying to point out some of the distinguishing characteristics. Among these, head-shape is a key factor. In the photos below note how the three Greater Scaup have more rounded, longer heads, with eyes closer to the top of their heads. The single Lesser Scaup, on the other hand, has a more pointy head with an obvious corner towards the rear of the head, and the eye appears to not be as close to the top of the head. I have spent hours working on the finer points of distinguishing these two species, and you can too if you get on over to Blackrock Lake. Apparently the Greater Scaup are showing up there again with some regularity.

Photo courtesy of Arthur Grosset
Photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker

One additional highlight of the day is that were able to locate a pair of Great Horned Owls. Their proximity to a huge nest high in a cottonwood may indicate that they have chosen their nesting site for this year. The female could be incubating eggs anytime now, as here in Colorado nests tend to begin being occupied at the beginning of February. Incubation then lasts about 35 days, so we could expect to start seeing little white owlets as early as mid-March. However, there is great variation in the nesting phenology, and it is possible to see owlets in nests as late as July. The photo below is of the male we saw.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Jaacks

Hope you guys are enjoying these mild days, and enjoying the wintering ducks.

Good Birding!

Chuck Aid

 

South Platte Park, Feb 4, 2017

31 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  48

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  1

Gadwall (Anas strepera)  12

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  21

Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  16

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)  8

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  11

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  32

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)  23

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  11

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  2

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  2

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  1

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)  1

American Coot (Fulica americana)  7

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  110

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  30

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)  2

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  2

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  3

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  9

Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  7

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  40

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  8

South Platte Park, February 4, with Chuck Aid

Saturday was another great day of birding! Eleven of us went to South Platte Park, where the winds calmed down and the temperature warmed up quite nicely.  We began by noting the orange legs on the female Common Mergansers.

Photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker

Our first really enthralling bird of the day was a female Northern Harrier, which flew down from a nearby tree with prey in its talons, and landed out in the open on the edge of Blackrock Lake. We were able to watch her for some time as she ate her breakfast – possibly a pigeon or a coot. The photos below are not of our bird, but they give you an idea of what we saw. Note the owl-like facial disc, the white both above and below the eye, the streaking on the upper breast and nape, the long banded tail, the white rump, AND the prey (in this case a Green-winged Teal).

Photo courtesy of Rob Raker
Photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker

Then, we were most fortunate to see my target bird for the day, Greater Scaup, which are an uncommon wintering bird in the interior of the continent, preferring salt water along both coasts. However, they have been occurring regularly at Blackrock Lake over the past three winters, and we were able to see eight of them. Distinguishing Greater Scaup from Lesser Scaup, which occur regularly here in the winter, is one of the trickier IDs, and I hope our group didn’t tire of my trying to point out some of the distinguishing characteristics. Among these, head-shape is a key factor. In the photos below note how the three Greater Scaup have more rounded, longer heads, with eyes closer to the top of their heads. The single Lesser Scaup, on the other hand, has a more pointy head with an obvious corner towards the rear of the head, and the eye appears to not be as close to the top of the head. I have spent hours working on the finer points of distinguishing these two species, and you can too, if you get on over to Blackrock Lake. Apparently the Greater Scaup are showing up there again with some regularity.

Photo courtesy of Arthur Grosset
Photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker

One additional highlight of the day was that we were able to locate a pair of Great Horned Owls. Their proximity to a huge nest high in a cottonwood may indicate that they have chosen their nesting site for this year. The female could be incubating eggs anytime now, as here in Colorado nests tend to begin being occupied at the beginning of February. Incubation then lasts about 35 days, so we could expect to start seeing little white owlets as early as mid-March. However, there is great variation in the nesting phenology, and it is possible to see owlets in nests as late as July. The photo below is of the male we saw.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Jaacks

Hope you guys are enjoying these mild days, and enjoying the wintering ducks.

Good Birding!

Chuck Aid

 

South Platte Park, Feb 4, 2017

31 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  48

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  1

Gadwall (Anas strepera)  12

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  21

Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  16

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)  8

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  11

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  32

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)  23

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  11

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  2

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  2

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  1

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)  1

American Coot (Fulica americana)  7

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  110

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  30

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)  2

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  2

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  3

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  9

Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  7

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  40

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  8

Hudson Gardens, January 28, with Chuck Aid

Dear Front Range Birders:

As you may remember, Saturday morning was wonderfully mild, and fifteen of us got to enjoy the weather as well as the good variety of ducks along the South Platte and in the adjacent ponds in the vicinity of Hudson Gardens.

To begin with, we were early enough to catch a large number of Cackling and Canada Geese down on the river, and get the opportunity to compare relative sizes. This is a very tricky business, and frankly much of it is beyond me. There are eleven subspecies of Canada Goose, and four subspecies of Cackling Goose, all of which have a superficial resemblance to one another, and with some size overlap. However, generally speaking, Cacklers are a small, stocky goose with a thicker shorter neck, a steeper forehead, and a small, stubby bill. When there are Mallards present (which was the case on Saturday) one can see that the smallest subspecies of Cackling Goose (25”) is only slightly larger than a Mallard (23”). These are the Cackling Geese that I can identify with some degree of confidence. The photo below shows Cackling Geese on the left and Canada Geese on the right.

Photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker

We then proceeded to get GREAT looks at nine species of ducks. Highlights included a male Wood Duck, a pair of Ring-necked Ducks, several Buffleheads, a few Common Goldeneyes and a few Hooded Mergansers. The real highlight of the day was a male Barrow’s Goldeneye. These ducks breed largely west of the Continental Divide up in the Canadian Rockies. They then winter as far south as northern California and western Colorado. We see a few each winter east of the Divide, but it is a rare occurrence, and always a special one.

Photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker

We ended the morning having seen 26 species (see list below). Hope to see you soon at the store, or on another walk!

Good birding!

Chuck Aid

 

Hudson Gardens, Jan 28, 2017, 26 species

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  25

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  180

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  1

Gadwall (Anas strepera)  8

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  37

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  2

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  15

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)  5

Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)  1

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  3

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  1

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1

American Coot (Fulica americana)  1

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  1

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)  1

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  3

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  3

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  5

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  4

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  7

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  6

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  11

Bosque del Apache Birding Trip

What a great road trip Front Range Birding had to Bosque del Apache, New Mexico with Reefs to Rockies. Bosque is one of the premier winter destination for birders.  Our small group of 9 travelers drove the 1,500-mile round trip and took in the sights of the southwest and observed and photographed 94 species of birds! I loved them all but here are some that we don’t see in the Denver, Colorado area much:

Tundra Swan                                                  Black-throated Sparrow

Snow Goose                                                     Cactus Wren

Ross’s Goose                                                    Juniper Titmouse

Gambel’s Quail                                               Canyon Towhee

White-winged Dove                                       Sage Thrasher

Greater Roadrunner                                      Curve-billed Thrasher

Sandhill Crane                                                Pyrrhuloxia

Acorn Woodpecker                                         Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Ladder-backed Woodpecker                         Black Rosy-Finch

Chihuahuan Raven                                        Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

 

A great treat on the 2nd day of the trip was the dawn “Fly Out” of thousands of Sandhill Cranes, Ross’s Geese and Snow Geese.

 

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the trip was the Sunday Rosy-Finch banding experience at Sandia Crest House overlooking Albuquerque, NM.

Our group at the Sandia Crest House watching rosy-finch banding.

Everyone had a great time! This month, we are heading to Minnesota with a group to see the boreal winter birds at Sax Zim Bog outside of Duluth. Be sure to watch for more of our adventures as we partner with the good folks at Reefs to Rockies tour company.