Thursday, April 8, 2010

Black Phoebe


Successful Twitch! Today my work schedule set itself up to have me take a lunch break right at the end of the day. Coincidentally, a report of a Black Phoebe had shown up on the COBirds listserve from last night down at Chatfield Reservoir State Park. Being the first calm, sunny day in a while I just had to head down and get another use out of my parks pass. I figured that even if I didn't find the bird it would be worth the drive. As shown by the photos I didn't make the trip in vain.


After an initial look following the directions provided by the emailer I had headed back up the path, when I met up with another birder, Joe. I decided to accompany him back to the location of the original sighting and within a few minutes we had both gotten good looks.


After twenty minutes or so we headed off, although I made another stop back on my way out of the park to get another few shots of this unusual visitor for our area.


After getting home I did a bit of reading on Cornell's Birds of North America Online website and found that this Black Phoebe is actually a bit north of its range. Usually, Black Phoebes only head as far north as Arizona and New Mexico, and up to Oregon on the Pacific Coast. Here in Colorado we see more of the Say's Phoebe, but both are flycatchers and are readily found in prominent perches where they make repeated short flights to catch insects.


I was able to watch some of this behavior, the Black Phoebe made many flights, but unlike the Western Kingbirds which will be arriving soon the Phoebe never seemed to return to its same perch on any given flight. The Kingbirds I have watched repeatedly take off and return to the same branch or fence post.
It was neat to have an attempt to track down a local rarity succeed. The previous Harris's Sparrow was fun, but at a location I visit every few weeks. This one, at a more distant location and being shared with another birder sharing the same goal was cool in its own right. Unlike the Snowy Owl that I had the chance to see on its visit to Colorado this winter, this bird had only been seen within the past 24 hours, and I had no idea if it would remain in the area as I drove towards the park. A fun bird to add to my life list, and a flycatcher that even I can distinguish at first glance!

2010 Count: 98
Lifetime: 211

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