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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lakes north of La Junta and Rocky Ford

I had a meeting in Rocky Ford today so stayed afterwards to do a little birding in the area. Since I didn't start birding until almost 4 pm and ended at 7:30 pm, I could only check 3 of the lakes in the area.

At Lake Holbrook, just northwest of La Junta, the lake is the highest I have seen in several years (due to a lot of rain recently which has reduced usage). The only shorebirds I saw were Killdeer (which breed in large numbers around this lake). There was a flock of Black Terns flying around the lake including birds in various plumages. Two Snowy Plovers worked the low water edges where there is now a lot of tall vegetation. There were scattered American White Pelicans and ducks continuing. In the trees around the lake I saw Western Wood-Pewee, an empid (empidonax species), and a Hairy Woodpecker. The Hairy is an unusual species on the eastern plains.

I checked Lake Cheraw but found even less water then last week when I was there. After a cursory check yielded only ducks and a few distant shorebirds, I didn't search further.

Lake Meredith held 2 Great Egrets, 2 Snowy Egrets and 2 Plegadis Ibis (either White-faced or Glossy Ibis). There are still a number of Aechmorphorus grebes (either Western or Clark's Grebes), some Killdeer and a lot of white-headed gulls (those I saw clearly were Ring-necked or California). I saw 5 Baird's Sandpipers in the ditch beside the nearby Ordway stockyards.

The most productive birding today was along the county roads I drove between the lakes. At a large stock pond I found 4 Short-billed Dowitchers (confirmed by call). Near another stock pond a juvenile Prairie Falcon checking for dinner. I found 3 Loggerhead Shrikes on fences and a Say's Phoebe out in the middle of a grassland area. I saw a total of 13 hawks with 8 of them Swainson's.



Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Colorado Springs area

I took some friends from California, Paula and Alan, to North Cheyenne Canyon Park to hike and enjoy the scenery today. Located on the west edge of Colorado Springs, this is city owned mountain park. Helen Hunt and Silver Cascade Falls were running strong due to all the rain SE Colorado has received in the past month. There is a short 1/3 mile hike (though it climbs several hundred feet and is steep in some places) to the top of these falls.

Hummingbirds, both Broad-tailed and Black-chinned, were the most obvious birds here. There were two Ravens that called loudly. The best find was an Abert's squirrel.

Garden of the Gods Park was much birdier. Also a city park, the fantastic red colored rock formations draw visitors from around the US and the world. There were as one might expect a number of singing Canyon Wrens. A Spotted Towhee guarded its territory, calling loudly as we encroached. I saw a White-throated Swift fly out from a crevice in one of the large rock formations, and could hear a lot of calling in that location possibly indicating a nest in there. Pinyon Jays gave their raucous calls around the park. And I caught a brief glimpse of a falcon flying away.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Buena Vista area

As I noted in last night's post, I led a field trip yesterday morning at the conclusion of our state Audubon convention. After we left the Chalk Creek Fish Hatchery in the Nathrop area, we took the scenic route (CR321) to Buena Vista. This route has fantastic views of the upper Arkansas River valley. It also winds through some nice ponderosa pine habitat.

Along this county road we found Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Bluebirds and a Swainson's Hawk (not very common in the mountains though it was in a location with a lot of grasslands, which is their habitat).

In the town of Buena Vista we found a good concentration of Lewis's Woodpeckers, observing more than 15 in a half mile drive through a residential area with lots of large cottonwood trees (where they nest). We also saw a Hairy Woodpecker and several Northern Flickers in this area. In an area with pinyon-juniper habitat we found an Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewees and an empid (Empidonax flycatcher) species as well as two flocks (about 20 in each) of Bushtits. And though I had seen several Pinyon Jays the day before when I scouted the area, we only heard their (raucous and unmistakeable) calls on the trip.

In an area of Buena Vista that has several lakes, one of our birders spotted a Black Tern (unusual in this area). Another unusual (though not as rare as is often stated) was a Common Nighthawk flying around in late morning (after the field trip I saw 2 Common Nighthawks flying in early afternoon there).

Other birds I in Buena Vista in the afternoon after the field trip included a flock of 8-10 Cedar Waxwing, several Yellow-headed Blackbirds, a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk, a juvenile Red-naped Sapsucker and Brewer's Sparrows (including one feeding a fledgling which may indicate local breeding).

The Buenva Vista area provides quite good birding. It is at about 8,000 feet elevation and lies in a high mountain valley in which the Arkansas River flows down from it's headwaters just north of here in the Leadville area.



Sunday, August 27, 2006

Birding the Chalk Creek Fish Hatchery near Buena Vista

I didn't get to post yesterday because I attended our state Audubon conference at Mt Princeton Hot Springs Resort just south of Buena Vista and get back to my motel room until almost 11 pm. This morning I led a post conference field trip around the area. I will report tonight on the first location we birded, the Chalk Creek Fish Hatchery.

Fish Hatcheries are often good locations for birding as they provide (or enhance already exisiting) riparian areas that draw many birds. At Chalk Creek Fish Hatchery this morning, we saw a good variety of birds. There were two Black-crowned Night-Herons, one being a juvenile (indicating breeding in the area and likely in the trees around the hatchery). There were three warbler species around the willows--Yellow, Orange-crowned and Wilson's Warblers.

We also saw three species of sparrows-Chipping, Song and Savannah. Two flycatcher species sallied about--Western Wood-Pewee and an "empid species" (it is very difficult to id emphidonax flycatchers in the fall as they are often silent, as this bird was, and they are most reliably separated by calls). We had only 2 swallow species at this location--Violet-green and Tree Swallows.

8-10 Great Blue Herons were in the area, one perched on the tip-top of a deciduous tree like a Christmas tree ornament. At least 1 Belted Kingfisher worked the fishery ponds while a few Red-winged Blackbirds hung out nearby. In the many trees surrounding the fishery we found a White-breasted Nuthatch and a Downy Woodpecker. Nearby was a House Wren. And a Brown-headed Cowbird flew out of the area, probably having laid its eggs in the nests of unsuspecting birds.

I will report on the rest of this morning's field trip tomorrow and maybe be able to upload some photos from it.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Black Phoebe still in Canon City

Yesterday I checked the area where the Black Phoebes had nested near the McKenzie Bride in Canon City. I could hear one calling but was unable to locate it. It is amazing how difficult it can be to locate one of these black and white birds. Indeed I frequently hear them before I see them.

Making it more difficult in the current situation is that these phoebes often hang out among the many overhanging branches that line a long section of the Arkansas River in this area. When one of the phoebes flies into or under the overhanging branches it can be virtually impossible to see them. And it is my experience that Black Phoebes often choose areas with overhanging branches (they provide a shady environment that would be cooler and they may attrack insects that these phoebes feed upon).



Thursday, August 24, 2006

Return trip home

I birded my way back home yesterday. I checked CR10 that goes to Blue Lake to see if the Swainson concentration was still present. Since I didn't have a lot of time, I drove only 3 miles up this mostly dirt road and saw 3 Swainson's--this would seem to indicate that the Swainson's are still pretty abundant and likely fattening up for their long migration.

I found some more great healty stands of shortgrass prairie further west this area. I think all the recent rains have really enhanced the grasses all around southeast Colorado. Though not near the numbers I saw south and east of Blue Lake, I did see 5 Swainson's Hawks in this area. I also found a large stock pond with 8-10 Long-billed Curlews. The curlews foraged on the grassy areas around the pond, and I watched two bathing in the water. It looked like flock was composed of both adult and immature birds. I also saw what looked like 3 Upland Sandpipers, but they were distant and flushed when I got out to scope them.

Along the way I saw a large snake moving rather quickly across a county road. Though it bore a resemblance to the Western Prairie Rattlesnake I saw in Sand Canyon a few days, it was actually a lookalike Bull Snake pictured in the second photo (the first photo is of the rattlesnake)--both were big, more than 3 foot long and several inches in diameter.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rattlesnake surprise

Today I explored an area new to me called Sand Canyon, an area on the Comanche National Grasslands. This location is only a few miles from Oklahoma and about 15 or about miles east of Springfield, a very remote area. It is a canyonlands similar to Cottonwood Canyon, which is a little further west, but has a larger cottonwood gallery.

The two-track was pretty rugged and I stopped only a quarter mile in as there was a big mud hole I didn't want to venture into. So my two dogs and I hiked the approximate 1 mile to the canyon with all the cottonwoods. There I saw at least 7 Red-headed Woodpeckers including a juvenile begging and chasing after an adult, 2+ Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, a few Northern Flickers and 1 Lewis's Woodpecker--and I was there less than an hour and only explored a small portion of this great riparian forest. I also saw an Olive-sided Flycatcher and a probable Juniper Titmouse (there are scattered junipers in this canyon). I saw a lot of turkey tracks though I didn't see any. And I saw a lizard, possibly a Lesser Earless Lizard, about 5 feet up a tree.

As I hiked back on the two-track I came around a corner and less than 10 feet in front of me was a large snake laying across one of the tracks. As I am quite fearful of all snakes, I always assume they are dangerous. I gathered both of my dogs close to me and got away, of course after taking a few photos. I have now looked it up on the internet and it appears to be a fairly large Western Prairie Rattlesnake, about 3 foot long and several inches in diameter. Though I read that this species tends to be fairly aggressive, this one didn't move or coil up (good thing as I would probably still be running away).

I still think that Sand Canyon is a great place and I will return (though I'm sure I'll be a little paranoid about snakes).


Monday, August 21, 2006

Lots and lots of hawks

Yesterday and today I have seen large numbers of hawks north of John Martin Reservoir. Though predominately Swainson's Hawks, there were also Red-tailed and Ferruginous Hawks. It is likely that these hawks, often in flocks, are fattening up for migration.

Yesterday I saw a "kettle" of 30-35 Swainson Hawks soaring with the help of thermal air mass plus dozens more hawks. Today I saw a total of 67 Swainson's Hawks.

"Birds of North America" states, "Flocks of several hundred immatures and postbreeding adults gather by late Aug and early Sep, fattening on grasshoppers." Swainson's Hawks are the second longest raptor migrators and many will migrate thousands of miles to southeast Argentina.



Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lower SE Colo birding plus reptiles & amphibians

I am down in lower SE Colorado on a recreational birding trip. I came down to take advantage of a cool spell, unusual in August. Yesterday the temps were in the 70's with a drizzle off and on. Today it wss mostly cloudy with temps in the low 80's--still very comfortable.

Birding has been very good with migrating hawks today including a "kettle" of 30-35 Swainson Hawks.

I have also stopped to assist some reptiles and amphibians. Yesterday I saw an ornate box turtle in the middle of a gravel road. Though not a lot of traffic here, there were cars coming and this turtle was in a vulnerable position. So I stopped my car and backed up to assist it in getting across the road (by walking close to it to encourage it to keep moving in the direction in which it was moving).

Today I found two different toads (haven't had a chance to look it up yet) near my tire when I got out of my car. I did the same with it--walked close enough to get each of them to move until I got them to some vegetation away in a safe location.

Each of these efforts only took a few minutes of my time plus I got to enjoy, and photograph, each of these critters. Many reptiles and amphibians are run over by motorized vehicles and bicycles, contributing to conservation issues. I try whenever I can to assist these critters. I even try to get snakes off of trails and roads, though with a stick (for garter snakes-yeah, I'm scared of all snakes) or by throwing rocks at larger and poisonous snakes (it is important to be careful with rattle snakes as they can strike the length of their bodies).

I will post on my birding tomorrow.



Friday, August 18, 2006

Off to lower Arkansas Valley for some birding

I left late this afternoon for a trip to the lower Arkansas valley to take advantage of a unusual cool spell and do some birding. When I stopped in Pueblo to get some gas (6 cents/gal cheaper there) I heard what sounded like a Olive-sided Flycatcher calling. I got out of my car with binoculars and discovered the call was from a Mississippi Kite soaring a few hundred feet above. These kites have fooled me before when they call.

I stopped for dinner at the Carmen's Steaks & Mexican Cuisine in the small town of Las Animas. I have discussed Carmen's before and list it on the right column as one of my favorite eating places in SE Colorado. I was delighted to find that they had a band playing tonight. Las Animas has fewer than 3,000 residents so it is quite amazing to find a restaurant here with a band, even on a Friday night.

Carmen's has a patio and that is where the band plays. It was a pleasant evening so I sat on the patio to eat dinner and listen to the band, which was composed of 2 guys and 2 women. They were playing a country-western song when I drove up. However, they surprised me by later playing Bob Dylan's "Knocken on Heaven's Door". And they did quite a credible job. Later they played Steve Miller's "Swingtown" as well as a Mexican song that was sung in Spanish (several others joined in including Carmen who own's the restaurant).

I believe in full disclosure. Carmen's husband, George, bought me a margherita. Nevertheless, Carmen's is a cool place to eat when traveling in this area. And it is a good place to watch Chimney Swifts that are often seen from the pation in the evening. I only saw one swift tonight but this may be related to the thunderstorm that blew in (though it didn't start raining until I finished my dinner).



Thursday, August 17, 2006

Black-headed Grosbeak at Canon City Riverwalk

There have been a good number of Black-headed Grosbeak breeding along the Canon City Riverwalk especially in the western section. That is where I took this photo of a female Black-headed Grosbeak this morning. She was perched about 75-80 feet up the bluff that runs the length of this western section. At this distance she apparently felt safe to perch in the open, sort-of (see her crouched posture, a position that makes her less visable and likely facilites quick flight). See a male Black-headed Grosbeak and read more about them here.

Every time I bird this section of the Riverwalk I hear, and sometimes see, Gray Catbirds as I did today. They are such great skulkers that they are often more likely heard than seen with their cat-like calling.

Near the parking lot several Blue Grosbeak feasted on fruit bearing shrubs (though I was able to get clear photos, they just came out as silhouettes as they were in the deep shade with backlighting).

And Lesser Goldfinch, a species that has been abundant this summer, have babies chasing them around and begging to be fed.



Wednesday, August 16, 2006

White-breasted Nuthatch and more on Canon City Riverwalk

Though I have been unable to refind the Yellow-billed Cuckoo on the Canon City Riverwalk, there have still been a number of enjoyable birds to observe. Everytime I go there, I see and hear several hummingbirds including the pugnacious Rufous Hummingbirds. There continue to be juvenile Western Wood-pewees as birds in the many nests in the area hatch and the birds fledge.

Today the immature White-breasted Nuthatch in the photo was working furiously and calling frequently. Nearby were several immature Northern Flickers practicing their flying skills. Some birders consider late summer a slow time in Colorado, but I believe it is only as slow as one let's it be.



Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More on Widow Skimmer

I ordered a book on the dragonfly family and it just arrived today. Written by Forrest Mitchell and James Lasswell, A Dazzle of Dragonflies has fantastic color photos and plates of some gorgeous members of this family (insect order named Odonata).

I was pleased to see a photo of a Widow Skimmer with information about them. The photo (posted 8.12.06) in this blog shows opaque white middle wing coloration. My new book says that this is called "pruinescence"--a powdery appearance that can be on the body or the wings or both. It also says that this characteristic "appears more typically in males and is usually more pronounced in older insects." It further notes that Widow Skimmers are a large species and also that this specific species is quite numerous. Indeed the book states that most common species are skimmers.

So I guess the skimmer I photographed was most likely an older male Widow Skimmer. I had no idea one could distinguish "typical" male/female characteristics and especially age indicators-how cool. Read more about skimmers in general and the Widow Skimmer.



Sunday, August 13, 2006

Canon City Riverwalk White-tailed Deer

The Canon City Riverwalk, a natural area that runs through the middle of our small town (about 25,000) hosts a number of White-tailed Deer. Since they cannot be hunted in the middle of a populated area, they are less shy than those in areas where they are hunted and can be viewed by standing still (or moving very slowly) from distances as close as 25-30 feet.

Please do note that deer are wild animals and it is never a good idea to approach within a much shorter distance as they may feel threatened and strike out (they have been known to injure many people by head butting and trampling)--and never, never, never feed them (this is a death sentence as they associate food with people and can become aggressive with others, ending in their being killed).

See more photos of this deer here


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Dragonfly-"Widow Skimmer" from Carrizo Canyon

Gosh, it has taken a long time for me to identify this member of the dragonfly family as a "Widow Skimmer". I saw in Carrizo Canyon in far SE Colo (west of Springfield).



Friday, August 11, 2006

Delaware Skipper-a small butterfly

This small butterfly is a member of the Grass-skipper family and I found it on the Canon City Riverwalk in a very wet area. That fits the habitat for this species that prefers "wet brushy areas in prairies or open foothills" according to Butterflies through Binoculars-The West.

This particular butterfly appears to be a female (ah, I bet some of you didn't realize that you could tell some butterflies apart by gender). Females have "wider boarders and darker markings" than males per Butterlies and moths of North America web site, a great online reference with lots of info and photos.



Though the frequent wheezy calling of Western Wood-pewees have indicated that this species is quite abundant on the Canon City Riverwalk, all the recently fledged birds I saw this morning truly confirmed it. These birds seemed to be flying everywhere as they practiced their skills. Their calls are similar to the adult's but just different enough to be noticeable.

Though juvenile Western Wood-Pewees look just like adults, the parent birds have worn plumage that makes them appear quite drab by the time the young fledge so they are recognizeable by their fresh plumage. See the white underparts and distinct wing bars on the bird in this photo. Also the tertials have wide white edges that make them stand out like they do on fresh spring adults.



Thursday, August 10, 2006

Canon City Riverwalk Western Tanager

I birded the western section of the Canon City Riverwalk this morning. I had been informed that the Hooded Warblers were still there including 2 likely offspring. Also there had been a singing Carolina Wren. I found none of these though I braved a horrible mosquito infestation (though these obnoxious insects certainly good bird food). In fact, I had to turn back and put on insect repellant Picaridin (the mosquitos seemed to like it, I swear they sat on my arms licking it off).

I also put a mosquito net over my head. Though these can be quite effective, you have to keep the neeting from contacting your skin as mosquitos can then bite you thru the netting--so I had to keep adjusting the netting. The netting doesn't restrict vision much, but sometimes that small restriction is just the little bit you needed to identify a bird. But better these inconveniences than all the mosquitos.

I did watch this female Western Tanager flying around and foraging. These birds are real "skulkers" (birds that move about stealthy manner, presenting great challenges to see and photograph them), staying usually in dense foliage. Some female Western Tanagers are duller and others brighter--this one is fairly bright as indicated by the considerable yellow on the head and rump. Note the olive-gray mantle on this bird. This and the whitish wing bars distinguish it from the other tanagers.

I will post more on the Riverwalk on separate posts.



Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Yellow-billed Cuckoos in Canon City area

I found the Yellow-billed Cuckoo in this photo on the east section of the Canon City Riverwalk this morning. I hadn't been birding down there for over a month as the mosquitos were thick. I was delighted this morning to find tent catepillar nests as they are associated with Yellow-billed Cuckoos. So as I walked the trail, I called occasionally (though I certainly don't sound like a Yellow-billed Cuckoo to me, it is close enough or entertaining enough to the birds as I have had reasonably good success in getting Yellow-billed Cuckoos to respond; and I don't play tapes as I think they are so real they are quite intrusive and can easily be played too much-it is less likely, tho certainly not impossible, that a person will overdo it when calling themselves).

As I returned down the trail I heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo call. I looked up and, though the bird didn't fly (which is a much easier way to spot them) I spotted it 200 feet away perched in the canopy of a large (80 foot tall) cottonwood tree. I was most happy that I could spot this bird as I have had some problems recently with eye problems because some vitreous material separate from my retina (one of those darn age-related things, tho fortunately not serious) and have large "floaters" that make looking for detail in distant birds even more challenging than usual.

I called a few more times and the same bird returned my call. It remained on the same perch for the 15 minutes I observed and photographed it (of course I was never closer than 100 feet from it). In addition to loafing in the canopy, it did a little grooming. I also saw another Yellow-billed Cuckoo on Aug 6 fly across my path on my friend's farm about 3 miles from this location.

I also saw 1 Black Phoebe near the MacKenzie Ave bridge. It was foraging at a distance from 75 to 150 feet from the bridge so is still viewable from a public area (though I see Black Phoebes at this area only one out of 2 or 3 times I bird there). I continue to see up to 2 Black Phoebes on my friend's property.

I got some photos of the today's cuckoo and they can be seen at


Monday, August 07, 2006

Mule deer,

Though white-tailed deer are the most common large mammal on the plains of SE Colorado, mule deer can easily be seen in a number of areas. This one was near Hardscrabble Creek southwest of Wetmore (and west of Pueblo). Read more about them here


Sunday, August 06, 2006

More Lewis's Woodpecker pics

I have finally finished cropping the last of the photos I took in Cottonwood Canyon 2 weeks ago. I saw two families of Lewis's Woodpeckers in this canyon with 1-2 adults and at least 1 juvenile each. I can't post the photos as the website is not allowing photo posting at this time so will have to add some later. In the meantime see pics by clicking here

I believe I have noted before that Lewis's Woodpeckers are a species of conservation concern. They are on the National Audubon Society Watch List as well as priority species with multiple Partner's In Flight Conservation Plans.

Postscript-8-7-06 blogspot let me ad the photo today


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Vogel Canyon-birds, scenery, rock art & Santa Fe trail

Vogel Canyon is one of the canyonlands on the Comanche National Grasslands that have a lot to offer. It is located about 15 miles south of La Junta. Though it is best to visit in fall, winter and spring, I did stop by briefly yesterday as the temps were only in the low 90's (but still pretty hot for hiking).

Surrounded by low precipitation short-grass prairie, this canyon provides a contrast of scenery and habitat including a perennial riparian area, fed by natural springs, with cottonwood trees and a lush green area. This area is managed by the U.S. Forest Service which provides more information on their website.

I watched a Praire Falcon playing in the prairie winds. Because it was pretty hot, I didn't go down into the canyon where Eastern Phoebes and nesting Great Horned Owls have been found. If you are looking for a great place to take the family, this is it.

Click here to see more photos, including several of the signage that describes the area.



Lake Cheraw Snowy Plover follow-u[

Yesterday I also birded Lake Cheraw which is north of La Junta. I saw a total of 10 Snowy Plovers including 2 in juvenal plumage (I could id 5 as adults but 3 were too distant to discern this age difference in plumage). What a difference the 2 weeks since I was last there makes--the tiny fluff balls that were apparently just hatchlings at that time now are the same size as the parents and look similar to them.

There were still many Wilson's Phaloropes, Baird's Sandpipers, and a few Spotted Sandpipers. That said, there could have been some other migrating shorebird species I didn't identify as I had some vitreous material separate from my retina (one of those darn age-related things, tho fortunately not serious) and have large "floaters" that make looking for detail in distant birds even more challenging than usual. If that wasn't enough hassle, there were some kids riding a dirt bike and shooting BB-guns at the Main Street observation area so all the birds in that area of the lake were distant also. There were certainly more shorebirds than when I was there July 21.

There were also 6 tern species flying around the se side of the lake. They did not appear to be Black Terns (upperparts not dark enough).



Friday, August 04, 2006

Great Blue Heron

Yesterday while trying to locate a Black Phoebe I heard calling at my friend's farm near Canon City, I saw this Great Blue Heron in the river. These birds are accomplished at fishing.

Great Blue Herons stand still or stalk their prey. Standing more than 3 feet tall, these birds are easy to see. However, they are often quite skittish in Colorado (though I find that not true along the Texas gulf coast where they are abundant) so it is important to approach carefully.

Read more about them by clicking here



Pronghorn (they really aren't antelope)

Though often erroneously referred to as antelope, the beauties in this photo are actually pronghorn. In fact, they have no relatives. And pronghorn are endemic to North America where they live in grassland and semi-desert shrub-steppe environments. Read more about them here.

Since many birders and others who enjoy birds enjoy seeing other wildlife such as pronghorn I wanted to include some of these other enjoyable wildlife species. And I was fortunate today while birding south of La Junta to encounter a small group of about 6 pronghorn. I was walking down a gravel road and they were watching me from a distance. I stopped to look at some birds in the opposite direction and when I turned around I found that the pronghorn had moved in closer. They appeared to be checking me out so I accomodate them by turning my back on them again (and being careful to move slowly so as not to startle them). They finally came to within 175 feet, pretty close for this usually quite shy species.

See more photos these pronghorn by clicking here.



Thursday, August 03, 2006

What Cottonwood & Carrizo Canyons look like

Though I have done some describing of Cottonwood & Carrizo Canyons west of Springfield, only photos can show what beautiful locations these are--and how different these canyonlands are from the surrounding sand-sage and short-grass prairies.

******************************The first photo is of the photogenic canyon walls in Cottonwood Canyon. The second is a photo of the Carrizo Canyon picnic area, which includes a perennial stream (Carrizo Creek) and usually several pools of water like the one in this pic. More photos of these lush canyons can be seen by clicking here


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Last of the Greater Roadrunner pics

These are the last photos of that most accomodating Greater Roadrunner I photographed in Cottonwood Canyon just over a week ago. Both of these photos show the roadrunner with a raised crest.

The roadrunner photos I have posted on this blog can be seen, and enlarged for better viewing, at . There are also a few additional roadrunner pics I did not post on the blog.


Back to the Greater Roadrunner photos

What I like best about the first photo is that it shows the metallic blue colored outer webs in the tail feathers of adult Greater Roadrunners. The second photo shows a close-up including of some of the body feathers.



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Black Phoebe & Western Wood-Pewee

This morning juvenile Black Phoebe that I have been following the past few days at my friend's farm near Canon City was feeding in some weeds where a Western Wood-pewee also was feeding. Each was flying down towards the ground to feed. Though both species usually sally out to catch insects in the air, they do take insects on the ground or on objects. The first photo shows the juvenile Black Phoebe perched on the barbed wire fence in the center of the photo (the photo is "busy" but the birds don't always accomodate by perching with a clean back-ground).

The second photo shows both the Western Wood-pewee (on the top rung) and the Black Phoebe (directly below) perched on the fence near each other.


Mourning Dove nestlings

While birding this morning on my friend's farm near Canon City, I flushed a Mourning Dove off a nest. Though I had birded this area a lot in the past few days, I was unaware that this nest was there. This photo shows one of the nestlings. Actually there was at least 1 more bird in the nest, but this nestling almost fledged due to my disturbance so quickly backed away, snapped a few photos and left.

Whenever I encounter birds on the nest I always try to think what my presence is doing--am I disturbing the birds, might my intrusion put them at risk. I believe all birders have the responsibility to reduce their impacts on birds, even common ones like Mourning Doves, with a special emphasis on avoiding risking the safety and success of nesting birds. The Code of the American Birding Association states, in part, "avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger. . ."

Mourning Doves are really quite attractive and nestlings especially so.


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