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Bird Business: Usual suspects show up with the cold and snow

Written by Marilyn Rhodes on .

Yard Birds

Soda Creek & Indian Hills—Juncos

On Tuesday, Nov 11, JoAnn Hackos reported, “With the snow and cold today, we have all of the juncos eating seed on the deck: White-winged, Gray-headed, Pink-sided and Oregon are all here today.”

Dan Frelka added, “I have all of them in Aspen Park, too, except I haven’t noticed the Pink-sided. Quite a gathering of Cassin’s Finches along with the juncos yesterday and something I haven’t seen here in Aspen Park before: several Clark’s Nutcrackers.”

Alderfer/Three Sisters

On Oct. 26, about 9 a.m., Peggy Sandbak was at home about half a mile west of Alderfer/Three Sisters Park when she heard her miniature Aussie growl—a deeper growl than normal.

“I looked up, saw nothing, another growl. Went to the patio door and just beyond the mowed yard in the tall yel- lowing grasses, was this big cat head. I was frozen as I watched it, then grabbed my camera.”

Peggy took a photo through the window as the mountain lion kept moving slowly across the pasture. “I have been in Evergreen for 25 years and this is my first sighting,” she said.

Evergreen Lake — Hooded Merganser

Cathy Edwards and her husband spotted a Hooded Merganser in the creek running alongside Evergreen Lake on Nov. 1. “I watched it dip under water several times as it swam up-current to where there was a male and female Mallard feeding at the creek’s edge.

“It dipped once before it reached the male and pretty much came up right under the male Mallard, which made the male scatter off about 3 feet.”

On Nov. 8, peakviper posted on EvergreenBirders: “We have seen a female (Hooded Merganser) several times over the past month. Today we saw a pair hanging together, diving for food on the north side of the lake beside 74.“

Larry White got a look at the pair the same day.

Sherry Walker added, “Yes, the male has been around for weeks, but today was the first time I saw a female, too. The male has been hanging out with the mal- lards, and I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this. “Why is he alone? Is that normal or common for mergansers? Is it normal for a lone duck to take up with another type of duck? Why hasn’t he migrated?”

JoAnn Hackos responded, “Actually they may not migrate far until the water freezes.”

Red Rocks/Jefferson County

Two Golden-crowned Sparrows were reported by Cyndy Johnson at Red Rocks Trading Post on Nov. 1.

The following report was posted to CoBirds by Mark Chavez, Lakewood- Green Mountain, on Nov. 11:

“This morning, I went up to Red Rocks at 7:30 to throw down lots of millet and sunflower seed.

“It didn’t take long for the tons of juncos, American Tree Sparrow, jays, Spotted Towhees, Song Sparrows and House Finches to find the seed. Both the adult and immature Golden-crowned Sparrows came in for the millet under the apple tree.

Things were scattered for awhile in the 14-degree temperatures when a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew in.

“On Sunday, I birded Denver West for only an hour. The place was extremely birdy and had lots of Cedar Waxwings, Red Crossbills (35-plus), Bushtits, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Brown Creepers, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

“This place should be watched for some good birds in the next few weeks. There are lots of berry-producing trees and pines in this business park off I-70 and Denver West Parkway.

Volunteers needed to feed birds

Gwen Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., posted to CoBirds Nov. 11: The time has clearly arrived to start feeding at Red Rocks on a regular schedule.

“By having a schedule, we can avoid a significant gap in feeding followed by multiple birders going on the same day. We will feed starting now and go through mid-March. Please email me directly if you are willing to take one day a week, or to be an occasional volunteer on call. Our goal is to attract the usual juncos, towhees, Scrub Jays, chickadees and unusual sparrows, Townsend’s Solitaires and especially any hungry rosy-finches.

Boulder County — rare hummingbird

A female MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD was reported by Adam Jack coming to his feeders in Coal Creek Canyon on Oct. 27 through Nov. 9. Aptly named for its spectacular plumage, the Magnificent Hummingbird s one of several hummingbird species found in southeast Arizona but not regularly elsewhere in the United States.

The bird breeds in mountains from the southwestern United States to western Panama. It inhabits the edges and clearings of montane oak forests from about 6,500 feet in altitude up to timberline.


To contact Marilyn Rhodes, call 303-674-9895 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To subscribe to the Evergreen Birders email list to report and view local sightings, go to www.EvergreenAudubon.org and click on the Local Sightings link.


Photo credits:  Mountain lion by Peggy Sandbak; Mallard by Cathy Edwards; Magnificent Hummingbird by Alistair Montgomery

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Bird Business: To everything there is a season....

Written by Marilyn Rhodes on .

Yard Birds

Alderfer/Three Sisters

It’s a well-known fact that birdbaths attract almost as many birds as feeders. They also attract other thirsty visitors.

Melissa Leasia shared a photo (right), snapped by her husband, Todd, at their home near Alderfer/Three Sisters Park on Sept. 19.

“The Birds” in Hiwan Hills

After noon on Sept. 18, I heard elk bugling in the neighborhood so I headed to my main deck to look for them in the back yard.

I was shocked to find a scene straight out of “The Birds” at my feeders. About a HUNDRED Common Grackles had stopped to feed on my sunflower seeds, devouring them in no time.

I’m sure I’ve seen these birds in Evergreen but can’t recall ever seeing them in my yard. It kind of freaked me out to see so many in a feeding frenzy. There were also a few Evening Gros- beaks in the mob.

I spent a week in Norman, Okla., in late September and was treated to views of large flocks of migrating Common Nighthawks. I also visited Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City with a birder friend. We were delighted to find more than 600 American White Pelicans on the water.

Aspen Park

On Oct. 2, Dan Frelka reported, “I have had quite a few Ringed Turtle Doves around my yard in Aspen Park lately. Is this normal? My books say they are caged birds in Asia but are only in the Los Angeles area in North America. Does anyone else see them?” Further discussion with Susan Harper revealed they were probably Eurasian Collared Doves. Susan explained, “They are an invasive species that is being seen all over the metro area and in the Evergreen area. They don’t leave for the winter either!”

Evergreen Lake

A male Hooded Merganser was reported at Evergreen Lake on Sept. 24 by an unknown poster. The bird must’ve stayed there a few days because Janet Warner saw a Hooded Merganser at Evergreen Lake Oct. 1 around 3:15 p.m. while taking a walk.

“I couldn’t help but notice the duck because of the show it was putting on by ducking its head and puffing it — it was a thrill for me!”

Janet also reported seeing a Clark’s Grebe at City Park Lake on May 17. She was smart to take a picture of it and check it out when she returned home.

When you see a bird you can’t ID, I highly recommend this strategy. Take several photos of it instead of wasting valuable time fumbling through your field guide. You should be able to capture field marks you’re likely to forget or miss otherwise.

Chatfield State Park

I went to Chatfield with some friends Sept. 19 in search of Eastern Screech Owls and Sabine’s Gulls. Got a photo of one of three owls we saw but none of the gulls.

 

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Bird Business: Youngsters take over mid-summer

Written by Marilyn Rhodes, ASGD Master Birder on .

Yard Birds

On July 23, Ann Dougherty shared a photo of baby Broad-tailed Hummingbirds in a nest over her front door.

On Aug. 11, Ann stopped by the Soda Creek pond and saw a group of 16 Bluewinged Teal and a male adult Belted Kingfisher, the first time she’d seen him at the pond since last year.

Donald Randall and Carmon Slater had a Common Poorwill fly up from their driveway in front of their car just after dark in early June. The bird had been heard calling near their home on Stagecoach for several days.

On July 23, they reported something just as special, “a Canyon Wren continues to sing in the mornings from the rocky cliff above our house.”

On the morning of Aug. 7, Irma Wolf had two Gray-headed Juncos on her deck. “They show up to eat the seeds from the mistletoe. They both had very distinctive white tails, with only a thin gray stripe in the middle, as opposed to the book, which shows a gray tail with a couple white tail feathers on each side of the tail.”

The rain brought a steady stream of visitors to my home feeders in Hiwan Hills last month: Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds, Lesser Goldfinches, Steller’s Jays, House Finches, Red Crossbills, Evening Grosbeaks, Blackheaded Grosbeaks, Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Black-billed Magpie, American Robin, Dark-eyed Juncos, Pine Siskin, Mountain Chickadee, Pygmy Nuthatches and White-breasted Nuthatches. Most of them brought their babies with them and I observed several feeding their young.

I was treated to an especially rare occurrence when a lovely family of Western Tanagers frequented my suet feeder in late July and early August.

They had one sweet little chick in tow that was the spitting image of them and one rather large, drab, greedy chick that someone apparently left on their doorstep.

The Brown-headed Cowbird is a stocky blackbird with a fascinating approach to raising its young. Females forgo building nests and instead put all their energy into producing eggs, sometimes more than three-dozen a summer. They lay in the nests of other birds, abandoning their young to foster parents, usually at the expense of at least some of the host’s own chicks.

So glad at least one of the tanager chicks survived. He and his “brother by another mother” hung out on the feeders together.

So Long, Little Copper Bullets Evergreen residents are blessed with the arrival of Rufous Hummingbirds every year, usually in July, when they stop to rest and refuel as they make their way south. As you read this, most of them will have departed.

These little copper bullets are amazing because of the great distance they migrate from their wintering grounds in Mexico and the southern United States to their breeding grounds in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, western Canada and southern Alaska. In addition, they breed farther north than any other hummingbird. The enormous migration route of the Rufous Hummingbird is important for two reasons. The lengthy circular migration route, which occurs primarily to the west of the Rocky Mountains in the spring and through the Rocky Mountains in the fall, makes the species unique and important for study.

And, this small bird plays an important role in plant reproduction by moving pollen from plant to plant on its winter grounds, breeding grounds and any area over which it migrates. From Alaska to Mexico and throughout the western United States, the Rufous Hummingbird drinks nectar and pollinates flowers year-round throughout the thousands of miles of habitat that it visits annually. (USFWS)

Bear Creek Lake Park

On her way to volunteer at South Platte Park very early the morning of July 12, Cyndy Johnson noted that the Red-tailed Hawk chicks she’d observed in Bear Creek Lake Park off Morrison Road had fledged.

Kittredge

Trish Tofte and her Wednesday breakfast group were greeted by a Black-crowned Night Heron outside of the Bear Creek Tavern on July 9.

Genesee

I made two trips to Genesee Mountain Park in June. As usual, the apartment trees were full of cavity-nesting birds: Pygmy Nuthatches, Violet-green Swallows, Western Bluebirds, Williamson’s Sapsuckers.

Echo Lake

I spent some time at Echo Lake July 27 and Aug. 2. Barrow’s Goldeneye nested at the lake again this year and I hit the jackpot with Corvids, seeing American Crows, Common Ravens, Steller’s Jays, Black-billed Magpie, Clark’s Nutcrackers and Gray Jays.

In the willows around the lake we found a fluffy young Wilson’s Warbler foraging with its father. In the picnic area, we found three Cordilleran Flycatcher fledglings frolicking and fly catching.

Mount Evans

I drove to the summit of Mount Evans in July and made the trip again for the sunrise in August. Wildflowers were in peak bloom on the roadside and at Summit Lake and we saw Brown-capped Rosy-Finches foraging on the hillside. A young American Pipit was spreading his wings in the Western paintbrush at Summit Lake and we enjoyed watching Rocky Mountain goats herd their kids down the mountain.

Yellow-bellied marmot pups emerged from their burrows in early August and pika busily gathered and stashed grass for the winter.

Brainard Lake Mooseapalooza!

A friend and I went on a moose hunt at Brainard Lake, just west of Ward, on July 29. We arrived before sunup around 5:45, and immediately saw a bull moose in the middle of the willows. Soon two others emerged from the willows and joined him.

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