Thursday, April 30, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
- Greater White Fronted Goose (pictured, bottom)
- Ross's Goose
- Cinnamon Teal
- Ring Necked Duck
- Greater Scaup (pictured, top)
- Gambel's Quail
- Eared Grebe
- Double Crested Cormorant
- Common Moorhen
- Northern Rough Winged Swallow
- Barn Swallow
- Northern Mockingbird
In addition to these new-to-me birds, I also spotted Canada geese, mallards, an entire flock of northern shovelers, ruddy ducks, many American coots, one shy Wilson's snipe, many color variations of rock pigeons, several mourning doves, a pompous greater roadrunner, yellow rumped warblers, one yellow headed blackbird in a flock of Brewer's blackbirds and brown headed cowbirds, the ubiquitous house sparrows, and a great number of great tailed grackles. There were also at least two species of hummingbirds, a type of egret or heron, several other swallows, a largeish hawk, and other ducks and songbirds that I was unable to identify.
Frankly, I cannot recommend these two birding locations strongly enough. Easy and free to access, they are just a few miles from McCarran International Airport and an easy drive from the Las Vegas Strip. The Bird Viewing Preserve was wonderfully unpopulated - in fact, my husband and I were the only two in spacious facility for most of our visit - and while nearby Sunset Park is more crowded, the birds are also more accustomed to human presence and don't mind eager birders getting closer. I'm already planning a return trip in different seasons so I may see what other visitors are present. I'm also planning a full review of the Bird Viewing Preserve on About.com, so stay tuned for tips on hitting your own birding jackpot!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
- Western Meadowlark: Saw the bird, heard the song, and saw the bird singing.
- Red Winged Blackbird: A male in scruffy but identifiable winter plumage.
- Green Winged Teal: Lovely ducks enjoying a pond and walking on the shore.
- Northern Pintail: Extraordinarily beautiful ducks with distinctive crisp plumage.
- Yellow Headed Blackbird: Perching on a fence and proudly displaying his colors.
- American Avocet: Flying and swimming, graceful and elegant.
We also saw numerous other species during the birdwalk, including sandhill cranes, Canada geese, American coots, an American kestrel (hovering!), American robins, a northern shoveler, northern flickers, a northern harrier, and tundra swans. Unfortunately, neither my binoculars nor my eyes were fine enough to pinpoint field markings on all the species, so I'm unable to count them all on my list to my satisfaction, but there is always the excitement of the next birdwalk. I highly recommend these events to all Utah birders, and I will definitely be at the next event on April 25. I hope you can join us then, or check out the birdwalks calendar for other upcoming events.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
- Pine siskins and lesser goldfinches prefer almost exclusively nyger seed, most frequently from sock feeders or ground feeding.
- American goldfinches prefer nyger seed but will also indulge in black oil sunflower seeds. They will feed from mesh socks, tube feeders, or platforms, as well as spilled seed.
- House finches prefer black oil sunflower seeds and eat from the hopper feeder and spilled seed. They do try to balance on the tube feeders, but the size isn't quite right for their comfort.
- House sparrows are more likely to take millet but will also eat black oil sunflower seeds. Platform feeders are their favored buffet line.
- Eurasian collared doves will eat milo, millet, and black oil sunflower seeds; it just seems to depend on what is readily available on the ground for them, and they swallow it without removing the shell.
- Mourning doves prefer millet but will also swallow black oil sunflower seeds.
- Dark eyed juncos are exclusively millet diners, perferably on the ground but also on open platform feeders.
- American robins don't care for seed but enjoy the bread scraps on the ground.
- Mallards will gorge on black oil sunflower seeds and millet from beneath feeders or on the ground. That they will also sample treats from low platform feeders seems to be quite the eccentricity from my neighborhood ducks.
- Cassin's finches prefer black oil sunflower seed but will also taste nyger in hopper and platform feeders.
Seeing such varied dining preferences reinforces the idea that a backyard will be filled with richer bird life if we offer a range of unique foods and different ways for the birds to eat. That, then, is the crux of this month's poll -- what bird foods do you offer in your backyard? Cast your votes!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Watching ducks waddle through the snow is more amusement than I've seen in weeks - they looked like legless boats rocking precariously on the surface of a white, powdery sea. What's more, their expressions were undeniably disgruntled, yet they persisted. The wood duck and one of the mallard hens stationed themselves beneath my hopper feeder; she proceeded to shovel through the snow with her bill in order to vacuum up spilled millet and black oil sunflower seeds, while he kept a close eye on the mallard drake roaming the patio. Eventually, however, the hen decided that a better bet for sustenance would be the bread scraps I obligingly tossed onto the patio - in fact, it was so tasty she didn't bother to shake the snow from her bill.
While the calendar may say it's spring, in many places winter weather still prevails and we must not get disgruntled ourselves when the birdbath needs cleaning or the feeders need refilling. While I'm not about to put my hummingbird feeders out and the landscaping is currently on hold until the weather clears for more than a few hours, I can't help but notice how faithful - or at least how greedy - the backyard birds are when they know they can count on a rich food source. Will you be faithful to them?