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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April snowfall forces birds to roadside

      While we are enjoying spring weather (almost), my son Bryan, who is currently living in Longmont, Colorado, experienced 13 inches of snow overnight. So he decided to do a little birding, like any rational person would do. He drove out to the rural fields not far from is house. Since there was nowhere for field birds to feed, because the fields were buried under snow, the birds chose to feed on the roadsides of the less traveled roads. Bryan was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. He managed to find a large flock of Horned Larks and commingled with the larks were three species of longspurs, Chestnut-collared, Lapland and McCown's. He managed a few good photos.

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Chestnut-collared and McCown's Longspur
     After scrutinizing the flock, Bryan noticed that one of the longspurs was sick or injured, but was still able to fly. It was struggling to keep up with the flock and was obviously hanging out on the edge of the flock. Then an American Kestrel came flying in and chased the flock. It dove into the flock of Horned Larks and longspurs. Unfortunately for the longspur, the Kestrel took advantage of its weakness and chased it across a field and snatched it mid-flight. 
American Kestral with Longspur

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ravens, Owls and Eagles

       On the afternoon of April 11, 2013, Dave Eberly and I made a quick check of some large breeding birds in Delaware County. We went to the Glen Mills Quarry to check on the Common Ravens that we found nesting there earlier this year. Unfortunately, the manager of the quarry was not around so the staff wouldn't let us on the property. So we settled for a less than satisfactory view of the building where the nest is located. While viewing the building one of the Common Ravens flew out and headed to an area of the quarry where we lost sight of the bird. We were hoping that the bird would return with food in it's bill to confirm that they pair had young. The bird did return within ten minutes but without food. So we concluded, perhaps wrongly but hopefully, that the pair are still sitting on eggs.  
      Afterwards, we drove to a site that reportedly had a nesting Great Horned Owl. We arrived and quickly located the nest and saw a young bird staring over the rim of the nest at us. Dave was getting set up to take some photos when a second youngster popped up to check us out.
Great Horned Owlets (Photo by Dave Eberly)
       After this we made a quick check on the nesting pair of Bald Eagles at the Springton Reservoir. We set up the scope on the nest and saw one of the adults standing in the nest. Then while I was looking through the scope a fuzzy little eaglet lifted himself up to look around. The other member of the adult pair arrived on the nest and the adult birds changed shifts as the first one than flew off. Dave thought that he might have seen a second young bird but for now we'll say that the pair has just one eaglet to raise.