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.