Harriman Lake, November 4, with Chuck Aid

Redhead (c) Bill Schmoker

Harriman Lake once again delivered, as we spent a beautiful fall morning tallying 34 species (see list below). Everyone enjoyed great looks at eleven species of ducks, all of whom, except for the Shovelers are really showing their glorious breeding plumage.

Ring-necked Duck (c) Bill Schmoker

We saw three species of ducks from the genus Aythya, Redhead, Ringed-necked Duck, and Lesser Scaup. These ducks are all divers and for the most part are only present in Colorado during the winter. We missed on two other species of Aythyas – Canvasback and Greater Scaup – but they are around and their numbers should increase as we get further into winter. Another fun genus of wintering ducks is the Bucephala (from ancient Greek “ox-head”) which includes Common Goldeneye, Barrow’s Goldeneye, and Bufflehead. We had plenty of Buffleheads on Wednesday, but no Goldeneyes yet.

Lesser Scaup (c) Bill Schmoker

Speaking of breeding plumage, we saw three magnificent male Hooded Mergansers with their hoods all up, and starting to rehearse a bit of head-bobbing courtship with a lone female. We also got great looks at a male and female American Kestrel hanging out together. Finally, we had good numbers of migrant and wintering sparrows – American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, and Song Sparrow.

Hooded Merganser (c) Bill Schmoker

Hey! In writing this up, and as I leaf through my bird field guide, I’m thinking about how much I rely on the old taxonomic order of species which generally determines the order in which species appear in field guides (seabirds first, then ducks, raptors, chicken-like birds, herons, etc). AND NOW with so much DNA analysis, for you newbies this taxonomic order keeps getting shifted around almost, it seems, on an annual basis. So, I’m sending you my condolences, and urging you to stick with it and not get frustrated by name changes and changes in the order of the species. It is all a part of realizing that the more we know the more we know we don’t know. We, at the Front Range Birding Company will do our best to continue to help you gain greater proficiency with your birding skills, including an increased awareness of some of these relationships between groups of birds.

American Tree Sparrow (c) Bill Schmoker

Good Birding!

Chuck Aid


Harriman Lake, Nov 4, 2017
34 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  7
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  5
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)  8
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  28
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  35
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  4
Redhead (Aythya americana)  15
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  22
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  14
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  40
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  4
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)  13
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  16
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  80
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  4
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  23
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  4
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  3
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  12
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  4
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  6
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  24
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)  20
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  1
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)  8
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  9
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  26
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  23
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3