Saturday, December 11, 2010

Scouting the Territories

It is almost Christmas Bird Count time! As such there were some preparations that needed to be made. I had been contacted by the organizer of my local count asking if I would like to be a territory leader this year. I replied that I would be happy to help in whatever capacity, but that if there were more experienced birders to lead the territories (Boulder, Colorado has some phenomenal local birding talent), I would be happy to return to the same territory I had worked in years past as a participant.

Unsure which of three potential territories I would be birding next Sunday, I spent the majority of today poking around in areas of Boulder County I had not previously visited. I was checking for potential routes and hotspots to revisit next week. In between the two new territories I stopped by Betasso Preserve where I had done my previous Boulder CBCs. I just had to get warmed up in case I was to return there next week.

What I found immediately were dozens of Pygmy Nuthatches. Until today I had never known that these little birds were prone to large groups. My most extended previous viewing, also at Betasso, was a nest cavity in the spring where I presumed two parents were making alternating trips to care for the young.

This evening I checked the "Birds of North America Online". I learned that actually Pygmy Nuthatches are very social, and multiple adults may assist in tending nests in season. All I know for certain is that the first group of 15 I encountered all flew towards me as I photographed them. A handful were willing to perch within a meter of me to get a closer look at the spectacle that was a human on their turf. Those were too close for photos, but the encounter was a highlight.

The Pygmys are very active, and fun to watch when there is a large group to follow. Also, while out walking I was called to by a Common Raven in a tree at Bummer's Rock. It started in normal Raveneese - a low, croaking caaaar. Just after I had taken the shot below it switched to a noise that I can only describe as being close to the old bulb style bike horns. Not sure how well the image will display in the blog, but shadowed as it was the bill details and grayish neck really show off.

Just a few hours ago I learned that I will be leading one or the other of the two different territories I scouted today. After giving them both a look I am confident that I will be able to cover either one, and hopefully pull together a good representative list next week.

I haven't made a Christmas Bird Count hype post yet this season, and may not get to it. If you are new to birding and would like a fun way to get exposed to other birders in your area, consider joining a count near you. Check out the Audubon web page for more details and to find the date and location for a count that would work for you.

1 comment:

  1. Those Nuthatches are just adorable! Great photo too!