Northern Flicker Drumming – Colorado Day 3

The plan was to wrap up the December Colorado trip with one more blog. But after reviewing the photos from the final days I came up with several more posts. A couple travelogue type posts and a couple about things that caught my interest. Day 3’s morning was an enjoyable one in the field with a long walk at a state park. Strictly a travelogue day which means not any one highlight but many good views and observations. I’ll go with a Northern Flicker drumming to show my improving video talent. Ha!

Another cool day began at the James M. Robb part of the Colorado River State Park. Once again I had a park to myself.
The park appears to be a series of reclaimed gravel pits. A cold Great Blue Heron kept guard on the lake.
Even though I’m only a mile from Grand Junction the lone noise was a freight train. Plus, the view was great.
The park’s staff had left several dead trees, this one by a pond where an American Kestrel kept lookout. I think he was hunting sparrows in the brush alongside the pond.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets were prevalent on the trip, something I wasn’t expecting. (The Ruby is barely seen in the photo) I’m going to have a separate blog post concerning Ruby-crowned Kinglets in a few weeks.
Wood Ducks were at the park, also not expected. They’ll be featured in the Ruby-crowned Kinglet post.

There were numerous Dark-eyed Juncos but they too are getting a separate blog.

The call of the Spotted Towhee was perplexing until he popped out of the shadows. The call was much louder and grating than I remembered. Or was it the still morning’s air?

A White-crowned Sparrow Tree.
I’ve learned Song Sparrow’s coloring can vary greatly in the Midwest. This Colorado bird seems to be even redder than I remember at home.
Northern Flicker Drumming
As noted above the park’s staff had left many dead trees for birds, like this Northern Flicker.

Now the following isn’t a good video. I was playing around with the video and thought I had a focused video of a Northern Flicker drumming. Turns out there was a small branch in the way. But I had fun in the field watching and recording.

Turn up the volume to catch the Northern Flicker Drumming.

NOFL Drilling

I wrapped up the morning’s walk with a good mix of species – waterfowl, raptors, and songbirds. I encountered three separate Bewick’s Wrens but like any wren they didn’t come out long enough for a photo.

Hairy Woodpecker Finally – Weekend Highlight

Saturday morning I broke out the winter boots along with other assorted winter apparel and headed out. The cool temperatures didn’t keep me from making the big loop at the local park. During the walk I saw all the expected woodpecker species excluding Yellow-bellied Sapsucker but including the ever difficult Hairy Woodpecker finally.

Let’s set the stage for the Hairy Woodpecker. After walking for almost 3 hours I had seen numerous Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers, a couple of Pileated Woodpeckers, and 16 Downy Woodpeckers.

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Not sure why this Red-bellied Woodpecker was so upset but he called at my walking by for several minutes. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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I watched both Northern Flickers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers doing acrobatics feeding on berries. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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Right before this photo the flicker was hanging upside down to get the berry. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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It always amazes me how a bird this big can so easily hide in the forest. A Pileated Woodpecker is in the center of the photo. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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Looks like he too might be going for berries? Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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Hey! A good view of a Hairy Woodpecker finally. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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No mistaking this guy for a Downy with the size of that bill. Southeastway Park 11/12/16

Finally towards the end of the walk and after seeing 16 Downy Woodpeckers I see the Hairy Woodpecker.

This figures to a ratio of 16 Downy to every 1 Hairy on the day. 

I added up my sightings since we moved to Indiana and believe it or not I have a ratio of 16.2 Downy Woodpeckers seen for every 1 Hairy Woodpecker.

Thinking this was too much of a coincidence I checked eBird and found the ratio for all of Indiana is 5:1. I also checked other on-line resources and they too state the ratio was about 5:1.

Which leads me to the following questions:

  1. Am I missing a lot of Hairy Woodpeckers? I know the Hairy’s rattle so I don’t think I’m missing them calling.
  2. Does Central Indiana have more Downy’s? Are the local woods the wrong habitat for Hairy’s? I checked eBird for the local counties and it’s 6:1.
  3. I’m still not sure many birders are confusing Downy Woodpeckers with Hairy Woodpeckers? I really do believe this. I have been on numerous outings when Downy’s have been misidentified.
  4. So maybe Downy’s call more? That would explain my higher Downy count.

I’ll have to be more observant in the field for Harry’s. If I would have seen 2 more Hairy’s Saturday the ratio would have dropped to 5.3:1. And in-line with most ratios.

American Crows – Weekend Highlights

I told myself sometime ago I was going to post weekend highlights to make life a little easier. Having a regimented blog post concerning the weekend and one more later in the week about whatever I want fits my schedule. But I hadn’t thought of what would happen if the weather was so dark (fog and haze) that there wouldn’t be a highlight?

At least not in photos. Because every time I go birding it is an adventure and there are always highlights. The problem is I don’t get photos of everything to share.

So like the man once said, go with what you have got.

Mike and I birded Combs Wet Area and Southeastway Park in the fog and haze Saturday morning. When we arrived at dawn, Combs was packed with geese and ducks but like I previously reported was void of geese within a half hour. The odd thing is that I haven’t seen any Blue-winged Teal there yet this fall. I have seen them there each of the last couple of September’s. The only shorebirds were a couple of Pectoral Sandpipers and a few Least Sandpipers. Of course there were a lot of Killdeer.

Southeastway was slow in the fog. We might have been better off to come back later in morning. We did hear a Broad-winged Hawk calling in the trees but after a half hour search never located it.

Sunday morning was spent at Franklin Township Community Park. Not much in the way of warbler migrants but I watched a steady flow of Blue Jays fly from the north tree line and keep moving south. I figure they were migrating since I probably under counted at 50, which is many more than the normal 10 in the park.

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I spent Sunday morning with these dudes constantly flying around the Franklin Township Community Park (FTCP). I think they had found scrapings left over from Saturday’s soccer games. 9/25/16
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The main group of American Crows moved back and forth from the goalpost to the scoreboard on a regular basis. FTCP 9/25/16
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These two photos show the difference how birds appears at a distance. The larger of the American Crows is much closer than the smaller one. Without knowing that and looking only at the photo, I would think we had a rare, smaller crow. FTCP 9/25/16

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The photographic highlight of the weekend was capturing migrating Double-crested Cormorants. You can sort of tell they are in a V heading south. FTCP 9/25/16
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Back home the Northern Flicker family was out together. If I had been a second sooner a fourth one would be in the photo. Indianapolis 9/25/16
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Couldn’t pass up the chance for a photo of one of the Red-tailed Hawks that live in the woods by our place. Indianapolis 9/25/16

Low Grade Past Weekend Birding

Let’s get right to it. I gave myself the low grade of D for birding this past weekend. I would have received a F except for taking good notes.

Saturday’s goal was to observe species that will be leaving soon. Birds like ORCHARD ORIOLE, YELLOW WARBLER, HENSLOW’S SPARROW, and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT. I knew it wouldn’t be easy since they wouldn’t be singing. The plan was to walk Driftwood and Johnson County Park looking for these species.

The walk through Driftwood produced a Yellow Warbler but no Orchard Oriole. Odds are slim I’ll see one the rest of the year…

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Most of the summer Yellow Warblers are thick at Driftwood SFA. By mid-August they are hard to come by as this was the only one seen last Saturday. Driftwood SFA 8/13/16

After waiting out the strong thunderstorm, checking out the shorebirds that had put down, I finally got around to walking Johnson County Park. Most of the birds were still wet.

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A Willow Flycatcher and a House Finch were out after the rain subsided. Johnson County Park 6/13/16
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A soggy Northern Mockingbird wasn’t interested in flying very far. As I approached it moved a little farther up the fence. Johnson County Park 6/13/16

 

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This damp Northern Flicker showing the name sake yellow-shafted variety. Johnson County Park 6/13/16

The Low Grade

As I walked the fence row following the NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD a yellow bird popped out of the vegetation and onto the fence farther up the road.

  1. The bird was Green above and Yellowish below. Maybe one of the Willow Flycatchers I had just seen?
  2. The bird flew a little farther up the fence and landed. A better look showed it had Olive Green above and Brighter Yellowish below. No wing bars or other marks could be determined. From the habitat a female/young Common Yellowthroat was now the thought.
  3. It flew a little farther up, landed again on the fence, and flashed bright white outer tail feathers, like a Dark-eyed Junco. This was definitely not a Common Yellowthroat BUT WHAT WAS IT? Of course it flew away without a further look or photo.

I should have known, but I had no clue. I wrote down everything I could remember and proceeded to continue birding. Back at the car an hour and half later I looked through Sibley’s Eastern Birds. First I looked at the vireos and next warblers.

Then I read the following:

HOODED WARBLERS – “with tail often raised and fanned” and “mostly white tail distinctive”.

So was it a young Hooded Warbler? By process of elimination it probably was but I’m not sure enough to call it one and log into eBird. In my defense – what was it doing at Johnson County Park on a fence instead of the deep woods? Was it migrating and the heavy rains knock it down like the shorebirds? Probably.

The point is I should have known Hooded Warblers flash their white outer tail feathers. And I didn’t.

Thus the low grade.

The Finish of the Solid Saturday

I need to catch up on a few things.

First the rest of the Solid Saturday that I posted about earlier in March. The day never cleared up until after I got home. So it was another day of taking photos with a cloudy background. Maybe next time it will be clear.

After leaving Franklin HS I headed to Atterbury. First I stopped by the GREAT BLUE HERON Rookery just west of the High School on Young’s Creek. I bring it up because soon I’m going to blog on the Johnson County’s Rookeries I know.

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The Great Blue Heron Rookery just west of Franklin. This one is a little closer to the road than the one south of town. 12 nests? 3/19/16

I then spent the rest of the day in the greater Atterbury FWA area. The bulk of the afternoon was spent walking the north end of Atterbury. Where I saw the SWAMP SPARROW.

First though was a stop at Driftwood were there wasn’t much happening except TREE SWALLOWS feeding.

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I liked the reflection on the water from the Tree Swallow in this photo. Driftwood SFA 3/19/16

Then on to the hike at Atterbury. The area always holds large numbers of EASTERN TOWHEES with over 20 seen or heard on the day.

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Though the area holds many Eastern Towhees, they weren’t coming out for photos.  I’m still hoping to get a photo of a towhee in the sun. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16
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Even though there were numerous species, they were all hunkered down in the bushes in the cold 30’sF temperatures and cold north wind. This Field Sparrow was a perfect example of how the birds jumped up , checked me out, and then right back down to the brush. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16
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But this Northern Flicker didn’t let the weather bother him. I’m thinking the Carolina Wren might want to watch out. The Flicker is quickly becoming my “new” favorite local bird. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16

I ended the day by watching a lone PIED-BILLED GREBE on the pond that my hike had circled.

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A good profile view showing the much thicker bill of the Pied-billed Grebe versus other smaller billed grebes. And the distinctive white rump. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16
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As can be seen by the lack of ripples on the water, the wind finally died down when I was getting ready to leave. And the grebe was left to itself on this peaceful day. Atterbury FWA 3/19/16

An Easy Weekend

With the weekend being sandwiched between weeks of traveling for work, last Saturday I looked forward to an easy morning of walking and enjoying the outdoors.  Since sparrows should be moving through and since hunting isn’t allowed there, I headed to my favorite sparrow spot – Johnson County Park.

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Walking the paths on a beautiful Saturday morning. Johnson County Park 10/10/15

Basically I took my time and enjoyed the birds, the changing trees, and the easy walk. I didn’t see any uncommon sparrows but I did see most of the expected fall sparrows. The closest I had to an uncommon sparrow was a Chipping Sparrow that wanted to be a Clay-colored Sparrow for several minutes.  It was always back-lit so I never could get a photo.

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One of those times that the birds actually sat in a tree together for more than few seconds. I don’t know if they were talking but both the Eastern Phoebe and Eastern Bluebird were calling while sitting in the tree.  JCP 10/10/15
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A Swamp Sparrow really didn’t seem to be in any hurry to move on. He gave good looks including the one I used in the blog header photo. JCP 10/10/15

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A little further down the path a White-crowned Sparrow sat somewhat out in the open. JCP 10/10/15
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Come on now. Why do Northern Mockingbirds always seem to think they can’t be seen? JCP 10/10/15

I ended up seeing Eastern Towhee, Chipping, Field, White-crowned, White-throated, Song, and Swamp Sparrows on the day.

An easy blog post for an easy day of birding.

And now a few photos from earlier in the month from the area by my place.

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Not a good photo but I really liked the brightness of the yellow shafts showing on this Northern Flicker. South Indianapolis 10/11/15
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Who says a big bird can’t use its colors for camouflage? If this Great Blue Heron hadn’t called I would have walked right by it. South Indianapolis, Early October 2015