Saturday, February 2, 2008

An Introduction...

About seven years ago, I got early retirement, sold my home and bought 40 acres near La Veta Pass in Colorado. Before I moved in, the stock-market mess of 2001 happened and my 'retirement' was lost by about two thirds. I moved in anyway, and lived alone, off-grid, at 9000' in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains; I learned a lot. Click here for the little story of my time there. The old website will be moved, I'll try to get back with a new address when that happens.

After three years I had to get a job and to make that happen, needed to move into town. I've done that and now live in a sweet little home, near the river and surrounded by huge cottonwood and willow trees. My neighbors include local deer, black bears, the occasional mountain lion, bob-cats, foxes…all manner of small animals and birds from huge eagles to several tiny hummingbirds…and about 900 or so other characters than myself. It’s a delightful community.

I live in an area of mixed Riparian and Montane and high mountain forest…best described here …and I’ve re-discovered the joys of bird-watching, to the point I wonder if I’m a budding birder who’s saving pennies for a Digiscope!

This fall, I waited till the bears left town and hung several many bird-feeders. Since then I believe I’ve seen the following birds at my feeders:

  • White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, Mountain Chickadee, and every manner of Junco Dark-eyed Junco, Slate Junco, Pink Sided Junco, White-winged Junco.
  • Pine Siskin, Lawrence's Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, Rosy Finch, Grey Crowned Rosy Finch, Brown-capped Rosy-finch, House Finch, Purple Finch and the lovely Evening Grosbeaks. Who knew they had teal beaks in breeding season? (see second, older, shot).
  • American Tree Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Cassin’s Finch (Sparrow?), Black Phoebe (or was it a very dark Junko?), Chipping or Song Sparrow
  • Mourning and Eurasian Collared Doves
  • Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker
  • Tri-colored Blackbird (today!)
    [edited to add: turned out to be a Red-winged Blackbird...hiding it's 'red'... who knew?]
  • Magpies drive my dog nuts (they eat his food) and American Crow and Common Raven abound.

Other birds I’ve seen in the area are:

  • Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Calliope, Rufous and, I believe, Anna’s Hummingbirds have all been here. Anna’s are the beautiful little green ones.
    [edited to add: probably NOT Anna's]
  • European Starling, of course.
  • Meadowlarks sing in the pastures all the time, and blue-birds are here, as well. I plan on putting up boxes this year.
  • Turkey Vultures are exciting to watch in their tree around the corner, as they open their wings to warm up before taking to the drafts in the morning. I am glad the tree is not in my yard, however.
  • Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned or Ferruginous or Rough-legged Hawks, Red-tailed and/or Red-shouldered Hawks; Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles, Osprey, Peregrine Falcons and Northern Harriers…but I know there are many other raptors. I once saw a tiny little Merlin or was it an American Kestrel?
  • Long-eared, Great Horned, Barn, and Great Grey Owls are here; I hear some hooting at night and see them from time to time.
  • I’ve seen Common or Lesser Nighthawk in the road, too.
The thing is, I’ve decided I’d like to know more about the birds. Like the little raptor I saw, or perhaps the bird so much like the exotic (to me) Evening Grosbeaks, but with red on it’s head…I want to know what I’m seeing. I want to find like-minded folks with whom to hike the area while birding.

A new friend just sent me this shot he got a couple days ago at Daigre Reservoir in La Veta, CO: An Osprey, thanks Joel!

Please feel free to leave comments or answers to my questions; I'd appreciate it!

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