Monday, May 12, 2008

International Migratatory Bird Day

This weekend, I participated in the annual International Migratory Bird Count that occurs the second Saturday in May, that this year was May 10th. I accompanied several seasoned birders from AVAS and had an absolute blast. The day began warm, but blustery and at one point was down-right windy. Many birds seemed somewhat inactive and hunkered down to stay out of the wind, but as the wind died down they took to the the degree that we had what was considered a near-record with about 116 named birds! Holy cow! I don't have the 'official list' yet, but...116 different birds in a single day in Colorado! Sheeshhhhhhhhhhhhh

Interspersed here, I'll include some of the photos I've taken in my yard the last couple of part of my own 'Bird Count'. The Great Horned Owl nest is the one I photographed the other day, you can just see nestlings peeping over the edge. I wanted to comment on the female Black-headed Grosbeak and how beautiful she is. So different from the other Grosbeak females, this one has lots of color.

But, back to the topic at hand...this is a counting day, not a photographing or bird watching day. Still, we saw everything from Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Swainson's Hawk and Osprey to Willets, Godwits, Dowitchers, Plovers, Sandpipers and other tiny little shore-birds. Most of these birds, I've never identified so I must have had at least 50 'Firsts', but not 30 minutes after making the comment I really wanted to see a bird I find most intriguing, a Shrike...we saw a Loggerhead Shrike! Then we saw another, and yet another! Apparently one scuffled with another bird in what appeared to be a territory dispute, but I missed it. I did see the winner, our Shrike, then hope to a nearby branch and remove something it had impaled on a twig and feed it to his mate. I find that fascinating, and this storing behavior is why the bird is sometimes called the Butcher Bird, as people have discovered six or eight mice hung neatly in a row along a barbed-wire fence; the Shrike's larder. Too cool, huh?

We also saw a couple of Brown Thrashers, a stunning bird; Bohemian Waxwings, hundreds of different kinds of Swallows and Swifts, my first Kingbirds, and I spotted a beautiful little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher which was identified for me by one of the others. I also saw my first Lewis’s Woodpecker, my first Bullock’s Oriole, first Lark Bunting, and even first Mute Swan. Lordy, it was an awesome day; from a single Great Horned Owl to hundreds of Red-necked Phalarope and the young Peregrine Falcon hunting them and the ducks closer to shore. It was a marvelous day.

I call this photo: Dandi Lions...

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