Sunday, July 15, 2012

Christmas Mountains Oasis - Lucifer Hummingbird Haven!

Here's a link to Carolyn Ohl-Johnson's Christmas Mountains Oasis Blog. This private ranch and bird habitat is a magnet for desert birds and migrants moving through the area. Be sure to make arrangements in advance, as with so many private properties spontaneity will leave you on the wrong side of a locked gate. This site hosts many Lucifer Hummingbirds all summer.  These little gems are aggressive, and the chasing is non-stop.  An American Kestrel flew over and was chased by a mob. 
Varied Bunting is the other bird I associate with the site. The adult males are stunning purple, pink, and blue. You'd think they would be unmistakable, but I thought one was an adult male Brown-headed Cowbird. It was a quick naked-eye glimpse, but still... it's funny what the mind can do.
I was surprised to see this juvenal plumaged Varied Bunting, more because the drab plumage is a contrast to the adult male. Varied Buntings wag their long, rounded tails much like a Painted Bunting or a cuckoo clock. One of the best field marks for this drab plumage is the lack of field marks. I wish these transient plumages were better illustrated in modern field guides.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rose-throated Becard at Estero Llano Grande - June 13, 2012

Here are some snaps of the last time I saw the Rose-throated Becard at Estero Llano Grande State Park, on June 13. Here she is checking out her nest, a compact construction hanging high in a palm tree.
She spent a lot of time gleaning bugs off the tree trunk or from the old woodpecker holes.  It was hard to see what she was doing, but she ended up with a grub in her bill.  Note: she has only one tail feather, perhaps because of European Starlings pounding on her. 
I got a couple of snaps of her in flight, showing off that single ratty tail feather but more importantly the beautiful cinnamon wings.  You can see how rounded the wing shape is, and some interesting emarginations on the outer primaries. 
I've looked for her at high noon a couple of days since and haven't found her - and now she's been missing since July 1.  She's vanished before, who knows - she may turn up again in short order!