SE Colorado Birding

Birding and discussion: A conservation-oriented birding blog that emphasizes low-impact birding and sustainable birding practices together with the enjoyment of birds. Southeast Colorado offers a diversity of habitats which provide premiere birding opportunities. Save Sabal Palm

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Upper Arkansas birds

Yesterday I returned from a trip to the west slope via the upper Arkansas River area. I stopped at Sands Lake in Salida and was pleased to see that this small lake has been refilled with water after it was drained for maintainence this fall. There were several Buffleheads, about 25 Common Goldeneye in addition to some Gadwalls, Coots and many dark geese.

There were more Common Goldeneye on the Arkansas River as it runs west of Salida. As I drove just outside of the town a light phase Rough-legged Hawk was working a field. I also saw 3 Bald Eagles from just east of Salida to north of Buena Vista including one sitting on the ice in the Arkansas River.

I didn't get to do much birding today but did see a nice flock of 23-25 Bushtits along the Canon City Riverwalk.



Lamar, Colorado

Greetings from Lamar,

I have new visitors to the feeders, as several mule deer visit the feeder area at night to eat the sunflower seeds dropped by the birds. Since I use sandbox sand under my feeders for easy clean-up, an idea from "The Backyard Bird", seeing their prints and droppings was easy. Other creatures taking advantage of the dropped seeds are fox squirrels and desert cottontails. Interestingly, the deer ate around the safflower on the ground. I feed safflower because squirrels, grackles, blackbirds, etc., are not fond of it, apparently, deer aren't either.

Have done a little birding in the last few days. Spent a day last week at LCC and Two Buttes both for birding and to climb the buttes; today I drove around Lamar and made a quick visit to LCC. Most interesting birds were: Inca Dove, Northern Cardinal, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, and Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches at my feeders. At the woods were 2 Carolina Wrens, a Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebirds, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Around the outskirts of Lamar were the many Red-tailed and Ferruginous Hawks. Also saw one Prairie Falcon dive-bombing an injured Snow Goose north of the Arkansas River. If I had a sense of anything, it was spring is coming. Many of the male birds were actively chasing females, the Red-bellied looked like it was preparing a nest hole, and the Eurasian-collared Doves are nest building. The photos are courtesy of Dave Leatherman taken at Lamar Community College. Thanks Dave!

Best and best,


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canon City birding

I found a female Red-naped Sapsucker in Canon City on Jan 22. This is very unusual at this time of year as this species should have migrated far south to southern New Mexico or Mexico. I was told that there was a Red-naped Sapsucker found on the Christmas Bird Count in Canon City last month so this might be the same bird.

The 5 Greater White-fronted Geese continue in the area. I continue to see American Dippers along the Arkansas River including in a new location by the western section of the Canon City Riverwalk that I saw this afternoon. I also saw a Wilson's Snipe next to the Riverwalk today. And others who walk this area daily report they are seeing at least one Bald Eagle regularly.



Monday, January 23, 2006

Pueblo birding

I took the opportunity to do a little birding in Pueblo on 1-19-06 while in town for an appointment. Though it was afternoon, I had some good finds for this area. I birded the former Valco ponds on just off of H96 and a few miles west of Pueblo Blvd. This series of former cement ponds have mostly been taken over by Colorado State Parks so a parks sticker is required.

These Valco ponds (not to be confused with Valco ponds in other towns in SE Colo) are adjacent to the Arkansas River just downstream of the Pueblo Reservoir dam. This provides the opportunities to bird both the river and pond areas while walking the trail that runs between them.

I saw a Black Phoebe, pictured here, feeding along the river. Black Phoebes, though still rare in Colo (there are small populations in western Colo) east of the Rockies, appear to be expanding their range into SE Colo with 5-10 birds seen each year and breeding documented in SW Pueblo County, and several locations in Fremont County. However, winter Black Phoebes are still quite unusual here with only a few former winter records in Fremont County. As is most often the case, I heard the "sip" calls before I saw the bird.

Other unusual birds for winter were an American Pipit and a Spotted Sandpiper, both working along the river shore. On the ponds were 40+ Common Goldeneye, about 5 Common Mergansers, hundreds of Buffleheads and other assorted common waterfowl and gulls.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Lamar, Colorado January 20, 2006


Sorry to have not posted to this site for a few weeks, but illness and other family business had taken priority.

Since the first of the year, my feeders have been somewhat slow, we are still very, very dry and are in desparate need of moisture. Late last night, we had a couple of inches of welcomed snow and I saw nice birds at the feeder today. The female Northern Cardinal returned to take advantage of the safflower and water; six Inca Doves sat on the fence in the sun for a better part of the afternoon, generally, they arrive at the feeder around noon. Other birds today were: 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers, (I have seen five at the water at one time the last couple of weeks, all Myrtle's race) 1 Downy Woodpecker at the suet (she prefers the one with corn), 2 Red-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, American Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Cedar Waxwings, Eurasian-collared Doves and two Red-winged Blackbirds, one being partially albino. Earlier in the week I had a female Purple Finch, but she only stayed about ten minutes.

Cats under the feeder continue to be a problem but I am making progress with one neighbor who is keeping her two cats indoors as much as possible. When she saw her little female brutally attacked, near my feeders, by a large, feral male cat, she was determined to keep them indoors as much as possible. She now calls me when she lets them out so I can keep a more careful eye on my feeders and send them home. So far it is working.

My daughter-in-law is becoming more interested in birding and it was very rewarding to hear her excitement about seeing and identifying her first male Ring-necked Duck. As she becomes more adept, I will have reports from Walsh with her sightings. Good birding and thanks to SeEtta for keeping this site going.



Monday, January 16, 2006

Recent Canon City birding

I have birded around Canon City several times since my return and though I haven't found any rarities, it has been productive. Five Greater White-fronted Geese are still here. Canon City has been one of the most reliable sites for this species for a number of years. I haven't seen the Ross' Goose that was here in November but could be around.

Other waterfowl in the area are Green-winged Teal, Redheads, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Am Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser and at least 1 Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Pied-billed Grebe as well as the ever present Mallards and Coots.

I have seen a Marsh Wren several times along a local waterway and have been scolded for trespassing near it's territory. There are at least 3 Am Dippers continuing in the Arkansas River in Canon City and a short ways east of town though I am not hearing them sing as they did up to early December.

Black-capped Chickadees are more frequently seen this winter than since their population took a dive in 2002. I usually see/hear several Brown Creepers along the Canon City Riverwalk along with White-breasted Nuthatches, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Downy Woodpeckers.

There is a noticeable paucity of White-crowned Sparrows here (and I believe in many parts of Colorado) this year.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

6 Trumpeter Swans near Salida

According to a report in the local Salida newspaper, the Mountain Mail, 6 Trumpeter Swans were first sighted in a farm pond near Salida on December 29. These are the first recorded Trumpeter sightings in that area and for all of Chaffee County (Though appently there have been a few Tundra Swans reported in past years in the area).

Yesterday on my way to a meeting in Salida I visited the pond where they swans have been staying and took these photos.
There were several American Wigeon and Mallards sharing the pond, though a number of cattle grazed nearby. Click here
to read the Mountain mail article about these swans


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bighorn sheep near Salida

Though bighorn sheep are not birds, I think many birders enjoy seeing them. Highway 50 from Canon City to Salida is named Bighorn Sheep Canyon due to the several herds that have historically occupied this area. In my experience they are best seen from late fall to early spring, times when the number of humans and human activity is significantly reduced.

Today I was fortunate to this large herd of 14 bighorn sheep between Howard and Salida, a few hundred feet across the Arkansas River. On my way back from Salida I saw 2 more bighorn sheep close to Texas Creek.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Swans & Roadrunner at Lake Hasty/John Martin SWA

After checking out the Queens State Wildlife Area and Reservoirs on 1-5-05, I stopped at John Martin Reservoir. There was a lot of open water with waterfowl but also a good amount of ice which draws Bald Eagles. Most waterfowl were distant but those closer in and identifiable included Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Mallards and 6-7 Bald Eagles.

Birding around Lake Hasty, a small lake below the John Martin dam, was quite productive. There were 2 adult Trumpeter Swans and 1 immature Tundra Swan. I saw these plus an additional immature Trumpeter Swan as noted below on 12-13-05 and they had been present for several weeks before that. Lake Hasty provides a protected environment as hunting is not allowed there, boats would be unlikely in winter and there are few fisherman or others to disturb them.

And I saw the Greater Roadrunner in these pictures near a picnic area adjacent to Lake Hasty. Interesting to see irridescence in its tail feathers as picked up in the second pic. A wildlife update in the park headquarters noted that there had been 2 Roadrunners seen in this area recently.

My last stop on my way home this date was the Valco pond in Rocky Ford which had over 100 dark geese, a number of Northern Shovelers, Am Wigeon and Mallards.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Long-eared Owls at Queens State Wildlife Refuge

Another birding stop on my way home on 1-5-06 was Upper Queens Reservoir. This reservoir is one of several lakes that make up the Great Plains Reservoirs north of Lamar (though in Kiowa County). Due to heavy hunting pressure, there weren't any waterfowl on either Upper or Lower Queens Reservoirs. I did see an adult Bald Eagle, at least 1 Northern Harrier and a probable Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk. Two Red-tailed Hawks engaged in an aerial dance, circling and soaring together likely as part of breeding display.

And I found the 2 Long-eared Owls pictured here, plus two more. The first pic shows the classic Long-eared Owl pose, elongated to blend in like another tree limb. The second pic shows an owl that I unfortunately disturbed when I walked into the trees where they were perched. This species is easily disturbed as they are difficult to see until you are often too close. There may have been more owls in these trees but I left so as not to disturb more. Be aware that I took these pics with a 12 power digital camera and also enlarged the photos. I was actually 25+ feet from each of these when I took the photos.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Lamar, Colo birding on 1-5-06

J W Thompson told me that a Carolina Wren and a Red-bellied Woodpecker had been seen recently by her friend Dottie in the wooded area behind the Lamar Community College. This is another of those prime birding areas here. Altho I did not find the Red-bellied Woodpecker, I did see the Carolina Wren. This wren is a rarity in Colorado. It was a section of the woods that also held several Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a White-breasted Nuthatch as well as Northern Flickers, Dark-eyed Juncos, Am Goldfinch and House Finches.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Baca and Prowers County 1-4-06

My absense from posting for the past several weeks is due to my leaving the state to look for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the species thought extinct until the announcement last spring. Since this blog is for SE Colorado birding, I built another blog for that trip. The address is (but I am behind on posting as I had limited email access on my trip)

I returned to Colorado day before yesterday and birded my way home. I stopped first at Two Buttes State Wildlife Area south of Lamar. This is a fabulous birding area especially in spring when great migrants can be found there. Though I didn't get there until mid-day, it was quite birdy. One of the first birds I saw there was a male sapsucker that looked more like a Yellow-bellied than Red-naped as it had more extensive white on its back. I was not able to get good enough looks at its' face to see if the red on its throat spread across the black malar strip as it does with Red-naped (the lack of red on the nape is not a way to discrimate these species as it is difficult to see or not present in some Red-napes). Red-naped Woodpeckers are unusual in Colorado in winter and I believe that Yellow-bellied would be quite unusual for far southeastern Colorado.

Other birds seen at Two Buttes were 2 Canyon Wrens, 1 Rock Wren, 1 Brown Creeper, 1 White-breasted Nuthatch, 1+Downy and 1+ Hairy Woodpeckers, 2 Pine Siskins, 1 Common Merganser, 10-12 Mtn Bluebirds, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 2 Song Sparrows, 1 Great Blue Heron, as well as Dark-eyed Juncos, N. Flickers and Robins. I think this was pretty good for this fairly small sized area.

Late that afternoon when I got to Lamar I stopped at the Fairview Cemetery and found 20+ Cedar Waxwings with the many Robins and Eurasian Collared-Doves in the many and diverse trees here.

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