Friday, May 23, 2008

3 new birds and dive bombed by a Cooper's hawk!

I got back from North Dakota yesterday and have to report on my birding success! I managed to get three new birds. The two that I posted about last time (Leconte's sparrow and Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow) and the third was a Baird's sparrow. These were tough to get, so I am really glad it worked, because I may not be back to North Dakota for a long time! But beyond the new birds, the highlight was spotting a male and female Cooper's hawk and getting to see them really close up. At first I wasn't sure why they were staying put and not flying off, but as I walked a bit further down this trail by a small creek, the male dive-bombed me! That's when I realized they had a nest nearby. I got incredible looks at both birds, with the sun at my back and nothing in the way, and only maybe 30 feet from me with 10x binocs. The red eyes were penetrating! But when the male dived at me, I actually had to duck and hold up my binocs. He veered off when he was a few feet away, but it was enough to make me scoot. Times like these remind me of why I get up early and go out and hike and birdwatch. If you go, you never know if you will see anything exciting or different. But if you don't go, you know for sure you will not! And often enough you do see something really special, and that is enough to make you keep at it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

North Dakota and new birds!

I'm off to North Dakota next week for work, and as is often the case, I want to get out and do some birdwatching. There are two sparrows that breed in North Dakota ( and not much elsewhere in the U.S.) that I will be searching for. But as you can see by these photos - these two little buggers really look very much alike. One is a LeConte's sparrow and one is Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow. The good news is that their songs are distinctive and I have been listening to them and learning them. So, with a little luck I will be able to add these to my life list. The more birds I see the harder the new ones get!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Springtime birding

I really enjoy this time of year, because there are so many birds migrating through the area. I usually try to get out early a few mornings and check some good spots to see what is there. Two days ago, I stopped at the Grandview Cemetery on the way to work. There weren't too many migrant birds yet, but I did find a great horned owl nest with three almost fully grown young. I told John Bartholow about it and he went today and took this photo. One of the adults is on the left and one of the young is on the right. The other two young birds must be hunkered down. Pretty cool!