Big Country Audubon Society

Stories from February, 2007

February 26, 2007 – Dyess AFB

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Harris Sparrow, 1 in a mixed sparrow flock
  • Turkey Vulture, 1 FOS (first of season)
  • Cliff Swallows, FOS for Dyess

Complete List:

  • Gadwall, 8
  • Northern Shoveler, 15
  • Green-winged Teal, 3
  • Bufflehead, 4
  • Great Blue Heron, 3
  • Turkey Vulture, 1 (FOS)
  • Northern Harrier, 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 2
  • American Kestrel, 3 perched very close to one another (family group?)
  • Killdeer, 11
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 1
  • Least Sandpiper, 3
  • Rock Pigeon, 5
  • Mourning Dove, 3
  • Greater Roadrunner, 1
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 2
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 2 (one was drumming on a utility pole and the second one (further away) drummed in response
  • Eastern Phoebe, 2
  • Blue Jay, 2
  • American Crow, 2
  • Cliff Swallow, 65 FOS
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 3
  • Bewick’s Wren, 8
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1
  • Eastern Bluebird, 1
  • American Robin, 19
  • Northern Mockingbird, 8
  • European Starling, 5
  • Cedar Waxwings, 32
  • Spotted Towhee, 1
  • Canyon Towhee, 2 maybe 3
  • Field Sparrow, 1
  • Savannah Sparrow, 3
  • Song Sparrow, 5
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 1
  • Harris Sparrow, 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 6
  • Dark-eyed Junco, 22
  • Northern Cardinal, 4
  • Pyrrhuloxia, 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 77
  • Meadowlark species, 61
  • Great-tailed Grackle, 100+ flying overhead
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 2
  • House Finch, 14
  • American Goldfinch, 2
  • House Sparrow, 8

Sightings by LgPacker

From A to Y, February’s Color in Winter

We don’t think of winter as being particularly colorful. Everything’s mostly shades of brown or gray, drab colors to match our cloudy sunless days. But I was just processing several photos of winter bird species and had to share the beautiful colors of our Big Country birds with you.

AMKE

From the orange in American Kestrel…

YRWA_IMG_3299_cr.jpg

…to the yellow in Yellow-rumped Warbler, our winter birds contain almost every color of the rainbow.

NOCA

Red cardinals…

PYRR

…crimson Pyrrhuloxias…

SPTO

…orange towhees…

LEGO

…yellow goldfinches…

MOBL

…and blue bluebirds.

Sunset_IMG_1927.jpg

Even some of our sunsets have been a burst of color. Want to see more color? Then please check out the eye candy in the Color in Winter gallery.

February 22, 2007 – Lake Kirby – Dyess

Lake Kirby Highlights:

  • Blue-winged Teal, FOS
  • Ruddy Ducks, lots
  • Common Moorhen, 1
  • Bonaparte‚Äôs Gull, 6
  • Snowy Egret, 1

Saturday’s (2-17-2007) Lake Kirby highlights:

  • Verdin, 1
  • House Wren, 2
  • Canyon Towhee, 2
  • Swamp Sparrow, 3

Tuesday’s (2-21-2007) Oakwood Trail highlights:

  • Red-bellied Woodpecker, 1 in the trees across from the playground

Above sightings by Lorie Black

Dyess AFB Mesquite Grove Golf Course:

  • Gadwall, 6
  • Mallard, 2
  • Northern Soveler, 6
  • Bufflehead, 1
  • Wild Turkey, 36
  • Great Blue Heron, 2
  • Northern Harrier, 1
  • Killdeer, 4
  • Wilson’s Snipe, 1
  • Rock Pigeon, 1
  • Mourning Dove, 50
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 1
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 3
  • Eastern Phoebe, 2
  • Blue Jay, 2
  • American Crow, 1
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 6
  • Bewick’s Wren, 3
  • Marsh Wren, 1
  • Eastern Bluebird, 5
  • American Robin, 9
  • Northern Mockingbird, 8
  • Eurasian Starling, 5
  • Cedar Waxwing, 48
  • Chipping Sparrow, 1
  • Field Sparrow, 7
  • Song Sparrow, 16
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 5
  • Dark-eyed Junco, 1
  • Northern Cardinal, 4
  • Pyrrhuloxia, 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 18
  • Meadowlark species, 26
  • Great-tailed Grackle, 8
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 71
  • House Finch, 23
  • American Goldfinch, 2
  • House Sparrow, 2

All Dyess sightings by LgPacker

February 21, 2007 – Dyess AFB

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Sage Thrashers, two on the same tree!

Complete List:

  • Gadwall, 5
  • Northern Shoveler, 5
  • Ring-necked Duck, 1
  • Bufflehead, 3
  • Northern Harrier, 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 1
  • American Kestrel, 1
  • Killdeer, 2
  • Ring-billed Gull, 2
  • Mourning Dove, 24
  • Greater Roadrunner (1 found dead so I guess it doesn’t really count)
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 2
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 2
  • Northern Flicker, 1
  • Blue Jay, 4
  • American Crow, 1
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 3
  • Carolina Wren, 1
  • Bewick’s Wren, 2
  • Marsh Wren, 2
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1
  • Eastern Bluebird, 9
  • American Robin, 3
  • Northern Mockingbird, 10
  • Sage Thrasher, 2 in the same tree in the afternoon, and another one in the morning in a different area. Hard to tell if there were three birds or just two roaming birds.
  • Curve-billed Thrasher, 4
  • European Starling, 22
  • Cedar Waxwings, 5
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 4
  • Spotted Towhee, 1
  • Canyon Towhee, 1
  • Field Sparrow, 2
  • Vesper Sparrow, 5
  • Savannah Sparrow, 6
  • Song Sparrow, 26 (can you tell I birded the ditch?)
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 7
  • Northern Cardinal, 6
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 121 (definitely in the ditch)
  • Meadowlark species, 44
  • House Finch, 13

Sightings by LgPacker

Buffleheads Fly, Others Shiver

Bufflehead_WebJAE_6377.jpg

These attractive ducks seemed impervious to our record low of 16 the other morning. John took some excellent photos as you’re about to see while I tried to bury myself in his borrowed thermal blanket. But then the ducks took to the air and I stopped hibernating long enough to capture their flight across the water. Only after I processed the pictures did I notice their different flying styles.

BUFF

And if record cold isn’t challenging enough for wildlife, some have to deal with below average temperatures without the proper attire.

Coyote

So take a look at the Shivering Picture Gallery to see the rest of John’s excellent photos and to see the outcome of the Buffleheads in flight.

Splish Splash, Fox Sparrow Takin’ a Bath

FOSP_bathes

While birding Fort Griffin State Park with Heidi (awesome birder, transplanted Houstonian, she too has been stuck in mud), we came upon a small puddle of water where the local residents were taking public bathes. But these residents bathe with their finest attire, and one unusually good lookin’ “Winter Texan” (well he came to Texas to get away from the snow) put on quite the show. A series of Fox Sparrow photos shows just how he splish-splashed and was ready to party. He certainly looked happy after his frigid dip. Yes, we saw some other birds this day. Check out February 12 Sightings for the complete list.

February 12, 2007 – Fort Griffin S.P.

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 1
  • Mountain Bluebirds, 15
  • Eastern Towhee, 1
  • Lark Buntings, 30*
  • Fox Sparrow, 3
  • Harris Sparrows, 12

Complete List:

  • Wild Turkey, 14
  • Northern Bobwhite, 8*
  • Red-shouldered Hawk, 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 6
  • American Kestrel, 3
  • Killdeer, 1
  • White-wing Dove, 1
  • Mourning Dove, 15*
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 2
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 1
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 2
  • Downy Woodpecker, 1
  • Northern Flicker, 3 (yellow-shafted)
  • Blue Jay, 2
  • American Crow, 4
  • Carolina Chickadee, 6
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 2
  • Carolina Wren, 2
  • Bewick’s Wren, 3
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1
  • Mountain Bluebird, 15
  • American Robin, 100’s
  • Northern Mockingbird, 3
  • Curve-billed Thrasher, 1
  • Cedar Waxwings, 100’s
  • Spotted Towhee, 4
  • Eastern Towhee, 1
  • Field Sparrow, 2
  • Vesper Sparrow, 24
  • Lark Bunting, 30*
  • Savannah Sparrow, 1
  • Fox Sparrow, 3
  • Song Sparrow, 5
  • Harris Sparrow, 12
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 47
  • Dark-eyed Junco, 27
  • Northern Cardinal, 8
  • Meadowlark species, 100++
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 75*

Sightings by Heidi Trudell and LgPacker
*These sightings were from a private ranch in Shackleford County, not at the State Park

February 10, 2007 – Lake O.H. Ivie

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Ducks! Lake Ivie continues to host thousands of ducks this winter. It’s a spectacular sight!
  • Common Loon
  • Bald Eagle
  • Horned and Eared Grebes
  • Bonaparte’s Gull
  • Purple Martin, FOS
  • Rock and Marsh Wren in the same habitat! The Marsh Wren was in the marshy area created by the dam outflow and the Rock Wren was on the rocky sides next to the marsh.
  • Mountain Bluebirds mixed in with huge flocks of robins and waxwings.
  • More Pyrrhuloxias (9) seen than Cardinals (2)


Complete List:

  • Gadwall, 100’s
  • American Wigeon, 100’s
  • Mallard, 12
  • Northern Shoveler, 100’s
  • Green-winged Teal, 24
  • Canvasback, 4
  • Redhead, 100’s
  • Ring-necked Duck, 6
  • Lesser Scaup, 2
  • Bufflehead, 15
  • Hooded Merganser, 12
  • Ruddy Duck, 2
  • Wild Turkey, 3
  • Common Loon, 3
  • Pied-billed Grebe, 8
  • Horned Grebe, 3
  • Eared Grebe, 3
  • American White Pelican, 100+
  • Double-crested Cormorant, 100+
  • Great Blue Heron, 5
  • Great Egret, 2
  • Black Vulture, 30
  • Turkey Vulture, 2
  • Bald Eagle, 1 adult
  • Northern Harrier, 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 11
  • American Kestrel, 7
  • American Coot, 1,000’s
  • Killdeer, 2
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 8
  • Wilson’s Snipe, 1
  • Bonaparte’s Gull, 4
  • Ring-billed Gull, 100+
  • Tern species, possible Forster’s, 3
  • Rock Pigeon, 24
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove, 50+ @ Ballinger Grain
  • White-winged Dove, 12
  • Mourning Dove, 50+
  • Greater Roadrunner, 1
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 2 (m&f)
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 2
  • Northern Flicker, 1 (red-shafted)
  • Eastern Phoebe, 1
  • Loggerhead Shrike, 5
  • Purple Martin, 1 (FOS)
  • Cave Swallow, 2 (FOS)
  • Rock Wren, 2 (heard calling at dam outflow)
  • Bewick’s Wren, 1
  • Marsh Wren, 1
  • Mountain Bluebird, 75+
  • American Robin, 100’s
  • Northern Mockingbird, 15
  • European Starling, 100+
  • Cedar Waxwing, 100’s
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 4
  • Rufous-crowned Sparrow, 2 @ senic overlook area
  • Chipping Sparrow, 5
  • Field Sparrow, 15
  • Vesper Sparrow, 18
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 30+
  • Northern Cardinal, 2
  • Pyrrhuloxia, 9
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 100’s
  • Meadowlark species, 75+
  • Great-tailed Grackle, 50+
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 100’s
  • House Finch, 45
  • American Goldfinch, 24
  • House Sparrow, 100+ @ Ballinger

Sightings by Lorie Black, June Estes, Kathy Hampton, Bill Hughes, Laura Packer

Territorial Dispute Between Hawk and Owl

While John and I were hunkered down in a very wet, cold ditch at Dyess AFB last Monday morning (January 29th to be exact) waiting for a little stealthy Le Conte’s Sparrow to put in an appearance so its Paparazzi could immortalize it, we noticed hardly anything was stirring or flying about. With ice in the ditch, I figured the birds were just staying warm nestled down in the reeds. After waiting for about half an hour we decided to walk on down the ditch to see if anything else was up and about. It didn’t take long before this Great Horned Owl startled us by taking to the air.

GHOW

So that’s why nothing was stirring. The birds knew a Great Horned Owl was in the area but we couldn’t see it hidden in the tall grass. (Some of the vegetation is as tall as my waist.) But before it flew very far, something else from the sky came into view:

RTHA

A Red-tailed Hawk, voicing its displeasure, swooped at the owl and you can see the pictures and read the account in the Great Horned Owl picture gallery.

This encounter illustrates how early some of our resident birds begin pairing, establishing territories, and breeding. The Great Horned Owl nests early and could already be incubating eggs. The Red-tailed Hawk will follow soon. I’ll let you know if I see any nesting behavior the next time I’m out at Dyess.