Thursday, January 7, 2016

Shoshone is alive with birds . All of these pictures were take today!Then rain came again for the third time since summer. The river is full. The sun causes insect hatches when it warms the wet vegetation, and old wood, where the eggs of insects  are laid.
Finally A Ruby Crown!
Today, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet was flycatching and preening along the Shoshone Spring at it’s confluence with the Amargosa River. Kinglets have always been difficult to photograph because they never stay in one place very long, always flitting, mothing, and butterflying, around. They breed in the nearby Spring Mountains, in coniferous forest. Their presence there is amazingly dense. It seems that they have a territory in almost every other tree. There must be tens of thousands of them breeding around Mt. Charleston. From mid fall to early spring, Ruby-crowned Kinglets are present throughout the Amargosa River, in riparian bird habitat.
          At the same spot, a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher joined in on the flycatching.Black-tailed Gnatcatchers are permanent year round resident birds in Mesquite habitats throughout the Desert Southwest. They stay in pairs year round. The males lose their black cap in winter and to tell male from female, behavior, and sounds, must be observed.
Western Bluebird takeoff.
Female Phainopepla takes a hard right while chasing bluebirds.
Western Bluebirds are everywhere.They roam around mesquite-lands raiding clumps of Desert Mistletoe from Phainopeplas who territorially defend them from other Phainopepla as well as Northern Mockingbirds, American Robins, and Cedar Waxwings.
Song Sparrow
The rains seem to stimulate birds to sing. In October, on a warm sunny day after a major flood, like today,male  Song Sparrows, Bewick’s Wren, and Crissal Thrashers, were singing along the River. Today, Song Sparrows were “counter-singing” where males take turns singing against one another. Counter-singing is territorial and usually reserved for breeding season.
Crissal Thrasher males often begin to song in late December, and are very early breeders. I have found Crissal Thrasher nests in February.
       Another extremely early breeder is the Loggerhead Shrike. Shrikes are also year round permanent resident birds throughout their desert habitats. They can nest in early February. They often nest in a lone tree.
       Anna’s Hummingbirds nest locally as early as late January. The males claim the best territory that they can and mate with females that enter the territory. Females build a nest and raise the chicks elsewhere, without male assistance.
Northern Harrier
  On Tecopa Marsh, at least two Nothern Harriers (Marsh Hawks) patrol daily, for any type of small to medium prey. Their piercing high pitched one note call can usuall be heard when both birds are present. Most years, a pair of Northern Harriers nest at Tecopa Marsh. The sky-dancing Male courts the female while calling repeatedly the kek-kek-kekk-kek, call. If she accepts him, they perform a mutual soaring display over the entire territory. The twist and turn simultaneously as they ride the same piece of wind together, like surfers sharing a wave.
                  Common Ravens are already mutual soaring over their territories in Shoshone, and have instituted a no-fly zone for any other large birds.
             Gopher Mike told me he has seen a falcon taking American Coots at the Shoshone Bird pond. No wonder there are only two left.

It seems that the Vermillion Flycatcher has left town. No one has seen him for over a week. I really will miss that guy and hope another will take a territory around Shoshone Village. 

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  1. I so enjoy the plumage displays of this article. I barely recognized the black-tailed gnatcatcher with its wings so splayed out! He looked so grand and hefty! Loved it!

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