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Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus − #BaldEagle. Wild Bird Company Bird Walk, Bird of the Day 03.10.18

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Photos taken by participants of Wild Bird Company Saturday Morning Bird Walk in Boulder, US-CO.

Photo Gallery: March 10, 2018 https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157688801781160

Slide Show: March 10, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157688801781160/show
(Note: For some mobile devices, you may need to enable Javascript and download Flash Player. If your mobile device does not support Flash Player, please view the Photo Gallery.)

Bird Walk Count and Newsletter – March 10, 2018: http://conta.cc/2GsLPyk

March 10, 2018. Very Nice and sunny. >8 participants.
I was missing from the line-up this morning, but the intrepid Saturday Birders struck out on their own to bring you this week’s slide show. Thanks to all who participated and particularly to those who sent me pictures.

Bird of the Day – #BaldEagle – Boulder, CO
I really don’t have any idea about which bird was the most memorable this morning, but I do know that both groups of Saturday Birders got good looks at bald eagles. Eagles in the county are very busy these days with nest building, courtship, and even egg laying and incubation. I watched an intruder bald eagle get escorted out of the Foothills Reservoir nest site by the occupying couple on Friday evening.

Bald Eagle ©Kevin Rutherford
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Make Your Own Breaks by Steve Frye

Make Your Own Breaks - March 2018 Wild Bird Company Newsletter http://conta.cc/2tJB0VO

My college roommate Roube used to say “Sly, you’ve got to make your own breaks”. He meant things don’t always happen completely by chance, having fortune smile on you requires putting yourself in a position where you can take advantage of what life brings. He was usually referring to school or women when he made this statement, but I think it works well for bird watching. You’ve got to make your own breaks.

We have had some good fortune on the bird walk lately. On January 20th, I announced to the Saturday Birders, as we were gathered to go out for the morning, “we are going to look for a snowy owl this morning”. One of the group facetiously remarked “not another snowy owl chase”. You see, we had looked for the snowy owl that was frequenting Stanley Lake in Westminster the month before, but we dipped as some birders say, we didn’t see the bird. I fell into the bird walk leader trap of announcing that you are just going after one particular species. If you don’t see that bird, then it’s hard for the walk not to seem a failure. Anyway, on the 20th I tempered my announcement by saying we were going to go to places where it would be more probable to see a snowy, and if we didn’t see it, we would find plenty of other great birds. The risk of dipping on the owl was great because I had never seen a snowy owl in Boulder County. Within a few minutes of arriving at Boulder Reservoir, I spotted what looked like a melting snowman on the ice about half a mile away. A very curious lump. We walked down to the Reservoir and put the scopes on it, a snowy owl. After a few minutes of reveling in our find, we saw another lump on the ice. A second snowy! What are the odds of that? To add to our luck, one of the birds flew right at us, passed us, and landed on some sailboats grounded for the winter. We enjoyed some nice views of this owl and it was a pleasure being in its presence. Both of these owls spent the day at the Reservoir and they both moved on by the next day. Snowy owls are known for their nomadic behavior and these two were no exception.

A couple of weeks after the snowies, again on the Saturday Bird Walk, we were having a rather lackluster outing. The wind had been with us all morning so the birds were hunkered down just like most people. Why battle the wind if you don’t have to (unless you’re a bird watcher). We decided to stop by one of the places I visit going to and from work. Bird watchers often refer to these little pockets of habitat as local patches. This local patch of mine is where Nimbus Road crosses over Left Hand Creek, just west of Niwot. We saw a few good things at this stop including a distant and very camouflaged great horned owl, but still not a lot of birds. I said my good byes to the group and climbed into the car heading for the Wild Bird Company to start the retail portion of my day. As I was driving off, I looked in the rearview mirror and noticed some of the Saturday Birders looking up into the trees. This was not a casual scanning or glancing, something about the intensity of their gazing combined with the unity of their focus told me they had found something. I put the car in reverse and backed up quite a ways until I was just about where they were. One of the group came around to show me the back of her camera. It looked like an immature northern goshawk! I quickly got out to investigate. Sure enough, they had found a northern goshawk. It had flown in just as we were getting set to leave. I have seen goshawks in Boulder County on many occasions in the summer in the mountains, but never on the plains in winter. Serendipity had smiled on us again. One of the values of bird watching in a group comes from all the collective eyes and ears. If all the members of the group are actively searching for birds you will discover many more compared to the situation where the group is depending on the leader to find and point out everything. You can’t ignore sightings and expect to find “interesting birds”. If you see something and aren’t sure what it is, you have to pursue it. Blowing it off as probably “just” another junco is a good way to miss seeing some unusual birds.

My mom swears that birds come out of hiding whenever I am around. Sometimes, my Saturday Birders have claimed the same thing. To which I will sometimes break out into the cheesy Carpenters song “why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near? Just like me, they long to be, close to you”. I have been on bird walks with expert birders and I am amazed at how they can find so many birds including unusual or rare ones. What seemed like normal or mediocre birding conditions suddenly transform into memorable sightings. What I have come to realize is finding birds is not all accidental. With knowledge of the season, habitat, and even weather conditions you can anticipate certain possibilities. Combine that with field experience, book knowledge, earnestness, and a certain amount of intuition and the birds will suddenly appear. You’ve just got to make your own breaks.

P.S. Here are links to the two bird walks referenced above. To sign up for the weekly email and slide show, so you too can take a virtual bird walk every week, click on the link below.

Snowy Owl Slide Show
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157662988179757/show

Northern Goshawk Slide Show
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157669330613369/show

Newsletter Signup http://bit.ly/WBC-Newsletter-Signup

Woodpecker Problems at Home?
Visit this link from a past Wild Bird Company Newsletter to help solve your Woodpecker problems
http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Attracting---Discouraging-Northern-Flickers---May-2017-Wild-Bird-Company-Newsletter.html?soid=1101712066650&aid=0ZD6Wp_em_8

See the "Ask Steve" article in the current Newsletter (March 2018) to answer the following two questions: http://conta.cc/2tJB0VO
Q1: I’m so excited about spring coming. What should I do in my yard to welcome the birds?
Q2: Where should I go to see the Sandhill Cranes?

Sand Hill Cranes ©Steve Frye
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Yellow-Rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronate − #YellowRumpedWarbler. Wild Bird Company Bird Walk, Bird of the Day 03.03.18

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Photos taken by participants of Wild Bird Company Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Sombrero Marsh & Pond, Community Presbyterian Pond and Boulder Creek--75th St., Boulder, US-CO.

Photo Gallery: March 3, 2018 https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157693485971604

Slide Show: March 3, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157693485971604/show
(Note: For some mobile devices, you may need to enable Javascript and download Flash Player. If your mobile device does not support Flash Player, please view the Photo Gallery.)

Bird Walk Count and Newsletter – March 3, 2018: http://conta.cc/2DawqPS

March 3, 2018. Sunny and calm. 40°F. 2-6 mph. 13 participants.
I was fighting the flu on the walk this morning so I was not on top of my game. And my camera battery died early on in the walk. Some days are just like that, still, it was beautiful out and we did see some good things.

Bird of the Day – #YellowRumpedWarbler – Boulder, CO
We had four yellow-rumped warblers grace us with their presence this morning. For a second, I didn’t recognize the chip notes they were giving up in the trees. It’s been a while since I’ve heard them! While these four may have overwintered, I think that it’s more likely they just returned early. Yellow-rumped warblers are always some of the first to come back because they can subsist on fruit, which other warblers are not so keen on. In fact, they are able to digest waxy fruits which are the kind that persist into late winter. Only tree swallows and yellow-rumped warblers are able to digest wax of all the North American birds. The Myrtle subspecies which we saw this morning is so named because of its fondness for waxy crape myrtle berries. Note: tree swallows are also early returners.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler ©Jane Baryames
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Spotted Towhee – Pipilo maculatus − #SpottedTowhee. Wild Bird Company Bird Walk, Bird of the Day 02.24.18

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Photos taken by participants of Wild Bird Company Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Walden & Sawhill Ponds Wildlife Habitats, Boulder, US-CO.

Photo Gallery: February 24, 2018 https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157690961056372

Slide Show: February 24, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157690961056372/show
(Note: For some mobile devices, you may need to enable Javascript and download Flash Player. If your mobile device does not support Flash Player, please view the Photo Gallery.)

Bird Walk Count and Newsletter – February 24, 2018: http://conta.cc/2t45Dox

February 24, 2018. Sunny and cool. 25°. 2-6 mph. 8 participants.
We were walking in freshly deposited snow this morning. That was a good calf workout! The new snow did not seem to detour the red-winged blackbirds and black-capped chickadees from singing loud and clear. They know what is on the horizon!

Bird of the Day – #SpottedTowhee – Boulder, CO
What a delight to see a spotted towhee in winter. I know that we have a small number that overwinter here, but it still strikes me as unusual and this one was in great light. Beautiful. You never find towhees too far away from the cover of shrubs so if you increase the number and quality of your bushes and evergreens in the yard, you might be visited by a spotted towhee.

Spotted Towhee ©Kevin Rutherford
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Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus − #BaldEagle. Wild Bird Company Bird Walk, Bird of the Day 02.17.18

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Photos taken by participants of Wild Bird Company Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Left Hand Creek at Nimbus Rd, Pella Crossing Open Space, and McIntosh Reservoir, Boulder, US-CO.

Photo Gallery: February 17, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157691974666371

Slide Show: February 17, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157691974666371/show
(Note: For some mobile devices, you may need to enable Javascript and download Flash Player. If your mobile device does not support Flash Player, please view the Photo Gallery.)

Bird Walk Count and Newsletter – February 17, 2018: http://conta.cc/2EV5CrL

February 17, 2018. Breezy and cool. 20-40°F. 2-30 mph. 17 participants. We were battling the wind this morning. It let up toward the end of our walk, but we hadn’t seen much so we decided to add McIntosh Lake to our trip. That was a good decision because a fish die-off was gathering all sorts of birds to the lake.

Bird of the Day – #BaldEagle – Boulder, CO
Wherever you find fish, including dead fish, you are likely to find bald eagles. It was the dead fish at McIntosh Lake this morning that attracted so many bald eagles. Most of the eagles we saw this morning were immatures of varying ages. It takes four years for a bald eagle to obtain its white head feathers and its head may appear a little smudged for two more years. After that time, its head will have the brilliant white head and tail feathers. There is no mistaking an adult bald eagle. Both sexes are similar and cannot be easily distinguished, however, the females are about 4% larger than males.

Bald Eagle ©Steve Frye
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Northern Shoveler – Anas clypeata − #NorthernShoveler. Wild Bird Company Bird Walk, Bird of the Day 02.10.18

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Photos taken by participants of Wild Bird Company Saturday Morning Bird Walk at University of Colorado Campus--Confluence Ponds and Skunk Creek, Boulder, US-CO.

Photo Gallery: February 10, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157663710304817

Slide Show: February 10, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157663710304817/show
(Note: For some mobile devices, you may need to enable Javascript and download Flash Player. If your mobile device does not support Flash Player, please view the Photo Gallery.)

Bird Walk Count and Newsletter – February 10, 2018: http://conta.cc/2sye0sg

February 10, 2018. Snowing! 15°F. 0-4 mph. 4 + 2 + 2 participants.
When it’s snowing out, like this morning, your best bet is to head for the ponds. Waterfowl are the easiest birds to find and watch in such conditions. Most of the little birds are hiding, they will come out again when it turns to flurries or clears up. We added a couple of birders to our walk that we met out in the snow and some of the images on the slide show are from regular Saturday Birders, the Rutherfords, who took advantage of the weather to go find some raptors out near Longmont.

Bird of the Day – #NorthernShoveler – Boulder, CO
Like many other male ducks, the male Northern Shoveler has a gaudy color display everywhere you look. Their wings, their feet, their eyes and head, their sides, everywhere they have color, and to top it all off is that oversized long and wide black bill. Quite a collection! Females are more subtly colored in browns, but still with that preposterous bill. Watch my video on the link below to see the Northern Shovelers swirling behavior as they try to bring food up from the bottom of the pond by creating a vortex.

Northern Shoveler ©Esther Brady
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Northern Goshawk − Accipiter gentilis − #NorthernGoshawk. Wild Bird Company Bird Walk, Bird of the Day 02.03.18

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Photos taken by participants of Wild Bird Company Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Twin Lakes (Boulder County), Golden Ponds Park and Nature Area, Left Hand Creek at Nimbus Rd and Boulder Reservoir complex--Coot Lake, Boulder, US-CO.

Photo Gallery: February 3, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157669330613369

Slide Show: February 3, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157669330613369/show
(Note: For some mobile devices, you may need to enable Javascript and download Flash Player. If your mobile device does not support Flash Player, please view the Photo Gallery.)

Bird Walk Count and Newsletter – February 3, 2018: http://conta.cc/2siEIoK

February 3, 2018. Partly cloudy and cool. 35°F. 2-8 mph. 16 participants. Many of the birds we found were hard to see this morning. Look at the slide show for our great horned owl images, for example. The one at Twin Lakes we could only see part of its face through a crack in the tree hollow and the other one we spotted along Left Hand Creek was in such a tangle it took about 10 minutes for all of us to find it.

Bird of the Day – #NorthernGoshawk – Boulder, CO
I almost drove away from our Bird of the Day this morning. I was just pulling away when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw several Saturday Birders looking intensely up into a tree. I backed up and Esther showed me the screen on the back of her camera – a Northern Goshawk! It perched up in the tree for a few minutes and then took off through the trees and up the creek. A thrilling look at an uncommon bird.

Northern Goshawk ©Neal Zaun
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Common Goldeneye − Bucephala clangula. Wild Bird Company Bird Walk, Bird of the Day 01.27.18

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Photos taken by participants of Wild Bird Company Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Teller Farm & Lakes and Boulder Creek--75th St., Boulder, US-CO.

Photo Gallery: January 27, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157690001546222

Slide Show: January 27, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157690001546222/show
(Note: For some mobile devices, you may need to enable Javascript and download Flash Player. If your mobile device does not support Flash Player, please view the Photo Gallery.)

Bird Walk Count and Newsletter – January 27, 2018: http://conta.cc/2GBVgv2
January 27, 2018. Mostly sunny and cool. 30°F. 2-6 mph. 10 participants. It was a chilly and damp start to the morning at Teller Farm. So to escape that, we ventured to Boulder Creek. Makes sense, right? Not really, but the creek has open water and you can always find birds, in winter, around open water.

Bird of the Day – #CommonGoldeneye – Boulder, CO
It seems a rite of passage in Longmont to take your kids crayfish (or crawdad, it you prefer) fishing. Armed with a cane pole or stick and a paperclip hook, you go down to a ditch and toss in a piece of hotdog on your hook and wait a very short time until a crayfish grabs on and you pull it out. We have a lot of crayfish around here. That is why we also have a lot of crayfish eating birds like hooded mergansers and our Bird of the Day, the common goldeneye. Common goldeneyes are rather skittish, but we found one having success hunting crayfish and we had a good long look at this striking bird.

Common Goldeneye ©Kevin Rutherford
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Snowy Owl − Snowy Owl − Bubo scandiacus. Wild Bird Company Bird Walk, Bird of the Day 01.20.18

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Photos taken by participants of Wild Bird Company Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Boulder Reservoir Complex, Boulder, US-CO.

Photo Gallery: January 20, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157662988179757

Slide Show: January 20, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157662988179757/show
(Note: For some mobile devices, you may need to enable Javascript and download Flash Player. If your mobile device does not support Flash Player, please view the Photo Gallery.)

Bird Walk Count and Newsletter – January 20, 2018: http://conta.cc/2FfbXLs
January 20, 2018. Sunny and chilly. 25°F. 2-4 mph. 11 participants.
Today, I made the foolish announcement that we were going to look for a specific bird, a rare one. Usually this leads to disappointment because, obviously, rare birds are hard to find. And, when you are so focused on seeing one thing you don’t always appreciate what is right in front of you. The slide show this week is a bit one-dimensional because we did find our rare bird. Two of them, in fact!

Bird of the Day – #SnowyOwl – Boulder, CO
I have seen a lot of birds in Boulder County, but never a snowy owl. Last Wednesday one was reported on the Diagonal Highway, so we had to go looking. Very soon after we arrived at Boulder Reservoir this morning, we saw a white-topped lump out on the ice. A snowy owl! We were so focused on it that it took a few minutes to see another lump out on the ice. Two snowy owls! We went to all sides of the reservoir to get a better look, but they were both in the middle. When we were over near the marina, one of the owls, who had been flying to various spots on the ice, flew right toward us and landed on a nearby sailboat mast. The rest is history, as they say.

Snowy Owl ©Kevin Rutherford
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Brown Creeper − Certhia Americana #BrownCreeper. Wild Bird Company Bird Walk, Bird of the Day 01.13.18

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Photos taken by participants of Wild Bird Company Saturday Morning Bird Walk at Pella Crossing Open Space and Lagerman Reservoir, Boulder, US-CO.

Photo Gallery: January 13, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157690718756451

Slide Show: January 13, 2018 Bird Walk https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildbirdco/albums/72157690718756451/show
(Note: For some mobile devices, you may need to enable Javascript and download Flash Player. If your mobile device does not support Flash Player, please view the Photo Gallery.)

Bird Walk Count and Newsletter – January 13, 2018: http://conta.cc/2FN919N

January 13, 2018. Cool, humid, and partly foggy. 25°F. 0-4 mph.
10 participants. We left sunny Boulder this morning headed for Lagerman Reservoir. When we arrived, it was so foggy we could hardly see each other, let alone birds. So we headed off to Pella Crossing where we could see some birds, as well as, some fog. After things clear a bit, we headed back to Lagerman.

Note: the wonderful images of the dark morph ferruginous hawk in the slide show were taken at Lagerman Reservoir by Kevin Rutherford, right after we disbanded.

Bird of the Day – #BrownCreeper – Boulder, CO

Any bird walk when you can see or hear a brown creeper is a good one. If for no other reason than they are inconspicuous in both sight and sound. We had three this morning working a grove of small trees. At one point, two of the creepers got into a tiff which soon seemed to resolve itself. I had never seen creepers act that way. You never know what you’ll find when you go out bird watching!
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