Sunday, May 16, 2010

Birding for Chickens

I'm sure you have figured out by now, I bird fairly close to home. Money is an issue; $30-40 to even drive up and bird around Pueblo is rough for me. No problem though...I live in a pretty birdy area. The reason I'm not real wild about birding alone is that I really don't know what to look for. It occurred to me, while observing a particularly dark-streaked Pine Siskin that...I could easily make it a Black & White Warbler. Sheeshhhhhhhhhhhhh.

However...I have good friends who sometimes pick me up when they go out birding. Polly and Paul Neldner are just such folks and live just across town from me. We like to share birds, stories and folks who visit. When folks come to my yard to bird (and there are quite a few), they let me trundle them over to their place about a mile see different birds in their different habitat. They get Pinyon Jays and Spotted Towhees, I get Rosy Finches...but never visa-versa.

Well, except for Charlie; my Lewis's Woodpecker who spent the winter in my yard and somehow has ended up in theirs! Yup, he's now in their yard every day...and they don't even feed him kibble. Harrummph!

These two neighbors of mine get to travel a bit and always include bird-watching when they take trips. Recently they were off on a chicken-hunt of sorts...I've never seen the chicken-types strut. I know the gist of it and used to find dusty spots up near my (then) cabin where wild turkeys danced and left both foot-prints and parallel marks where they drug their wings and fanned their tails for the ladies. But I've never seen them at it.

Polly and Paul have now seen it, but didn't get good pictures of the Dusky Grouse strutting and showing off, so when Paul happened upon a pair in Cuchara (about 10 miles up the mountain from La Veta), he started taking a camera to work; and he got some stunning shots.

Today, the two of them picked me up for the ride to try to break Polly's Bad-Grouse-Karma; hoping she'd get to see the pair displaying too. We did...and it was awesome. The female is a quite bird, in color and disposition; larger than I expected. Yes, very chicken-like and with big, feathered feet. The male was stunning; a pineapple-butt (from the back), startling yellow eye-combs and bright, raspberry-colored neckticles...I mean air-sacks (well, they do look a lot like something else...and only the guys gots 'em. ...thanks Polly! heh, heh, heh)

Anyway, the bird sort of gulps air and fluffs out, spreads his tail and 'booms' eerie and sort of prehistoric sound. It's a single burp (or whatever makes the sound)...of a peculiar wave length; it's wild. And I got to hear it several times!

On the way back, we stopped frequently to check birdy bushes, trees and ponds, and at one place spotted a beautiful Red-naped Sapsucker up-close and personal. What fun...

Perhaps I should offer this disclaimer...while this is a Red-naped Sapsucker, and the photo was taken by the Neldners, it is not the specific bird we saw. This is another shot they got some time ago...not all that far from where we were.

I appreciate my good friends & neighbors and they let me use their photographs! All pictures in this post belong to Paul & Polly Neldner. To see more of their beautiful shots, go to Colorado Birder, here. As always, click a pic to enlarge.

Oh, they both shoot and don't really care who took which photo between them;
hence the P & P. ...Sweet!


Piecefulafternoon said...

What wonderful photos - and wondeful friends. We are still waiting for more birds to come - we seem to be in the time between winter and summer birds. Have plenty to watch though, and chickadee babies have hatched in one of our birdhouses - such teeny tiny peeps they make.

Beverly said...

Hey, guess what; Polly is a quilter, too! She's made some stunning pieces, I might add. Yeah, really nice people, them.

I need to put out birdhouses. I'm afraid to, with the dozen or more squirrels that frequent my yard. Yes, I know there are ways to deter them...but...

Bird sounds: ever notice that Black-headed Grosbeaks (when not gloriously singing) sound a lot like a rubber ducky squeeze toy?

Thanks for visiting!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

I have great neighbors and friends too, but none really appreciate my love for biring much, so glad your friends get it. What kindness shown to you. Your images are really delightful and the I love you Rosy Finch image. The strutting Mr. Dusky Grouse is absolutely quite the handsome guy. Your Red-napped Sapsucker looks very similar to our Yellow Bellied Sapsukers. Ours have a soft mewing type noise that they make. Glad to have found your blog~

DJB's Photo Adventures said...

How wonderful to see Dusky Grouse dancing! Love the pictures.

Beverly said...

Thanks Mary. I am really lucky to have found this home with its VERY birdy yard. I have met some especially lovely people just inviting them in to share my yard.

Hey Debbie, thanks for stopping by. Both Paul and Polly are quite the photographers and have a blast using their pictures to document the birds they see. I'm tickled they share some of the shots with me. Of course you know that all the pics on this post are theirs. Paul found the birds up near where he was working and went back several times, re-finding the pair, so thatwe could see them too.