birding

Category Archives for // birding
June 18, 2017

I’m So Special

The bird who sings his name all day long, Dickcissel, seems to me to be singing…”I’m so special” over and over. Most birders miss seeing this bird on Chico because Dickcissels usually arrive in June when most bird migration is over.  This is an eastern species who nests in tallgrass prairies and weedy fields so you won’t find this one out on the Chico shortgrass prairie. Also, sometimes large flocks of non-breeding birds hangout during summer months.  Today, I counted

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June 16, 2017

Lark Bunting

Colorado’s State Bird, Lark Bunting. Males (here) and females are noticeably different in appearance. These sparrows, not buntings, are birds of the Great Plains and prefer to nest in prairies with sand sage like what is found on the eastern regions of Chico. Like a few other prairie species, males skylark while singing which projects their loud song further so more females might here them. They are often very social wintering and migrating in large flocks. In ideal habitat nests

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May 30, 2017

Black Terns at Headquarters Pond

One of the prettiest birds seen in both spring and fall at Chico is the Black Tern. Terns are notorious for their diving skills plunging head first into the water to grab small fish. But, Black Tern has a different set of hunting skills and they do not dive.  Like their relatives, they hunt over shallow bodies of water but they are hunting dragonflies and other flying insects.  Here, a Black Tern opens its bill to take the most common

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May 30, 2017

Chestnut-sided Warbler

One of the few warblers with chestnut coloration, Chestnut-sided Warbler is an eastern species so Monday’s birders were happy to see and hear a singing male at Rose Pond. This is a species that prefers second growth mixed woodlands but during migration it is found where the food is.  As in most springs, the food at Chico for warblers is found in peachleaf willows whose blooms attract a variety of insects.  Chestnut-sided Warbler is one of the species where females

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May 22, 2017

Time for Phalaropes

The three species of phalaropes are shorebirds who forage mostly on the water’s surface where there is a midge hatch occurring. First to appear at Chico are Wilson’s Phalarope followed by Red-necked Phalarope (photo).  Phalaropes are in the shorebird family and females are more brightly colored than males which suggests something interesting goes on during breeding. After laying eggs females rarely return to the nest.  Males assume all the duties of incubating eggs and raising the young. An uncommon bird

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May 22, 2017

Pike’s Peak Birding and Nature Festival

Over a two day period three groups of 15 birders plus leaders were taken to the best birding spots on the Chico. Over 100 bird species were tallied and I heard only positive comments about the experiences.  Probably the most exciting bird was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, the State Bird of Oklahoma but rare in Colorado with 3-4 sightings over the past 15 years on Chico. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are stunning especially when they fly with their super long tails spread open.

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May 15, 2017

Rare Bird: Golden-winged Warbler

A female Golden-winged Warbler was found on Sunday in the willows below the small headquarters pond.  It was still there on Monday.  This bird is uncommon in its range, mostly northern Midwestern states. It’s problem is its closest relative Blue-winged Warbler.  Both have similar songs, bee-buz for Blue-winged and bee-buz-buz-buz for Golden-winged. Also, they even sing each other’s song at times. Blue-winged Warbler has been encroaching and out- competing in Golden-winged Warbler habitat and so seeing Golden-winged on the Chico was a big and

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May 11, 2017

Ovenbirds

One of the warblers that is an annual spring migrant on the Chico, Ovenbirds are necessarily dull in plumage because they nest on the forest floor building an oven-shaped nest, a character used for naming this species. They are best know for their loud songs, singing “teacher teacher teacher” for long periods.  The orange crown stripe is sometimes visible and the breast spotting is reminiscent of thrushes.  Its scientific name, Seiurus aurocapillus comes from Greek words meaning to shake its

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May 11, 2017

One Of Our Dullest Sparrows

The dull sparrow named for John Cassin, a Philadelphia ornithologist,  is far more often heard than seen.  That is until breeding season when males sing from either a song perch like a cholla cactus or by skylarking.  When skylarking these sparrows are easy to see as they flutter their wings as they drift towards the ground trying to attract a mate. Although described as a dull sparrow, a closer examination proves the opposite to be true, the beauty subtle, not

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May 7, 2017

Who’s The Most Colorful

Male Bullock’s Orioles are loud and brightly colored yet are surprisingly difficult to see well except when they first arrive from the tropics to breed on the Chico.  Related to meadowlarks and grackles, the feature that all Icterids have is a strong, straight and pointed bill. Most passerines have 10 primary feathers on each wing; not so the Icterids which only have 9.  Bullock’s Orioles place their nests far out on thin branches hanging their basket-shaped nest away from predatory

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