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.
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.
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.
Finally, we saw a few beautiful Western Meadowlarks.
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
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