27 May 2009

Arizona - A Quick Update

As most of you know, I recently started my summer job with the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, and have been doing transects for them for several days now in the Kaibab National Forest of Northern Arizona. Hepatic Tanagers abound, and I even have had a couple Olive Warblers and even a Red-faced Warbler. I will post more in depth later, but for now, a parting shot of a Grace's Warbler from the Kaibab National Forest south of Williams, Arizona.

11 May 2009

Williamson's Sapsucker

Williamson's Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus) is one of the most unique North American woodpeckers. When it was first discovered, it was believed to be two separate species as it is so sexually dimorphic. One species was described in which no female had ever been discovered, and another in which only females had been observed. This female Williamson's Sapsucker was photographed on the Telegraph Road in Mesa County on 9 May 2009. The male is almost entirely jet black. I figured a woodpecker this cool deserves its own post.

08 May 2009

Lucy's Warbler in Mesa County!

Today, I found a male Lucy's Warbler in Rabbit Valley about a mile from the Utah Border in Mesa County, Colorado. This warbler, the smallest of the wood warblers in North America and one of only two to nest in trees, is extremely rare and localized in Colorado, regularly occurring only in Yellowjacket Canyon in Montezuma County, Colorado, in the Southwest corner of the state. In addition to these and the one observed today, there are (to my knowledge) four records of this warbler in Colorado; the first being an adult male singing in downtown Grand Junction, Mesa County in May 1991, another being observed in Lamar, Prowers County, another in eastern Colorado (location?), and finally an adult male in Gateway, Mesa County in April of last year (found the 24, I saw this bird on the 27). The fact that three records have come from Mesa County, and that two of them have occured each of the past two springs suggests that this bird may be becoming more regular on the Dolores and Colorado Rivers near the Utah border. It will be interesting to see what the future brings.

Lucy's Warbler is distinguished from other Vermivora warblers by having a plain, grayish overall look with a chestnut/rusty rump and crown, and faint eyeline.

01 May 2009

Gray May Day

It has finally arrived! May - the month when the orioles arrive en force in western Colorado, the month when warblers begin to set up territories, and when all migrants have a possibility to show! Today, though, I went up to the Colorado National Monument briefly to see what was out and about. Upon arriving, House Finches were singing everywhere. An Ash-throated Flycatcher called from the hillside, a Black-chinned Hummingbird defended his flowerpatch, and a distant Black-throated Gray Warbler sang a single 'zee-chick.' As I walked up the trail, I managed to hear a Rock Wren up the slope, and the House Finches and Black-chinned Hummers continued to fly around and be extremely vocal. That was when I spotted my third vireo of the year - a lone male Gray Vireo that was sporadically singing and swooping between the Single-leaf Ash and Utah Juniper. Further up the trail, an Ash-throated Flycatcher drifted by, and a calling Gray Flycatched wagged its tail in a nearby juniper tree. Overall, it was a good day in the PJ Woodland. You can never go wrong by birding the desert.