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

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Rainey, productive day in Canon City

Today was one of those very unusual days in the Canon City area-it rained off and on all day and evening, beginning in the morning (a rare event here). As Canon City is in a semi-arid area with annual precip of just less than 13", we usually only get a small amount of rain and only for short periods of time. After drought conditions for months, we have received over almost 4 inches of rain in the past week which is about 30% of what we usually get in a whole year!

And boy did the mosquitos love the rainey weather. Due to allergies, I try to avoid Deet so I wore long sleeves over my arms and a mosquito net over my head. though the netting in the mosquito net is quite fine, it does affect visual acuity some making birding a little more of a challenge. Fortunately birding was still quite good even with the rain and the netting in front of my eyes.

A brief walk on the Canon City Riverwalk in light rain produced a number one Gray Catbird that shared a few song phrases (though not a full song, probably related to nesting). I saw 4 male Lazuli Buntings and heard several more in a half mile section. Two Blue Grosbeaks chased each other in a field. Yellow-breasted Chats and Common Yellowthroated Warblers called loudly in several locations, while Yellow Warblers sang their "sweet-sweet . . . " song. There were a lot of Lesser Goldfinch singing and flying about. My birding here was cut short, not by the rain, but by workmen who were making a lot of noise getting several vehicles they had gotten stuck in the mud out with a big front loader.

Later I refound the pair of Black Phoebes that had been seen a lot earlier on near the McKenzie Ave bridge over the Arkansas River. Though I had not stopped often to listen/look for them, I had not seen them for several weeks. I was delighted to not only see both adults but 2 fledglings that were sallying nearby. This is the second pair of Black Phoebes in the Canon City area that has produced young this year, and the first time that 2 pair have bred here (though others have bred both in far eastern and far western Fremont County). The Black Phoebes here likely represent a range expansion for this southwestern bird and a signficant expansion in Fremont County where I found the first bird of this species just 11 years ago. There was also a Say's Phoebe calling in the area where I saw the Black Phoebes.

To top off my day, while looking for the Black Phoebes I found a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the one in this photo (not the best as I had to move to about 80 feet from the bird to get it to come out of the foliage). This is the first of this species I have found in the area this year and I was surprised to find one here as I have only seen and/or heard them in the tall cottonwoods in the riparian forest along the Canon City Riverwalk. And I usually see them in conjunction with an outbreak of tent caterpillar, the prey with which they are often associated.

And I am always delighted to see Yellow-billed Cuckoos, both because they are quite interesting birds (I watched and photographed one once that was less than 25 feet away that seemed to think it was well hidden from view, which is most often the reality) but because they are declining in all areas where they are found. The western population of Yellow-billed Cuckoo is a Candidate Species for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Oh, gosh, I can hear it raining again. First drought then deluges, though any specific weather cannot be attributed directly to Global Warming/Climate Change this these extremes are exactly what scientific models predict will occur because of it.


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