Saturday, December 19, 2009

Golden-crowned Sparrow #317

Photo by Christopher Taylor

On the 2009 Christmas Bird Count based at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, the bird of the day for my group was the Golden-crowned Sparrow! This sparrow is normally found on the west coast of the United States. It was one of the first birds we saw at our first stop of the morning at the Caldwell Ponds. It is my life bird #317 too!  Looking at flocks of common birds (in our case White-Crowned Sparrows) in combination with pishing is how we observed the Golden-crowned Sparrow.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Wren #316

Photo by Steve Round on BirdForum

I'm preparation for the 2009 Christmas Bird Count at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, I went out this foggy morning to practice some strategies.  I went to the Avimor entry bridge which gives me a good above-view of Spring Valley Creek. By pishing and playing a Northern Pygmy Owl hoot I was able to see Song Sparrows, American Goldfinch, and even a Downy Woodpecker stopped by to investigate.

I know we have wintering Spotted Towhees here at Avimor that will lurk in the thick underbrush because I had them last winter. I played its call, but no response. Then I got to thinkin'...there's another little winter bird that I've never seen before that this habitat should be perfect for; shaded, damp, and fallen trees. I've been reading about it a lot recently as it may be a species split between the western and eastern varieties. I played its call five times and then just listened and watched for 15 minutes. Dark-eyed Juncos and a Northern Flicker whizzed by, but still no sign of the little bird I hoped to see.

I gave up and started walking back toward my office...when I heard a faint keep-keep that was just different enough that I knew it wasn't a Song Sparrow. I went back to the bridge slowly and tried to track down with my eyes what I was hearing with my ears. There before my eyes was a cute little brown ball of joy. It reminded me of a mouse as it snuck stealthfully around the low brush and fallen cottonwoods.

An Avimor first - the 99th bird officially recorded at Avimor - and my life bird #316: The Winter Wren! This also makes the 4th species of wren observed at Avimor: Rock, Canyon, House, and Winter.

I wonder now if the Winter Wren call I have in my Zune BirdJam is an eastern bird or a pacific bird? Well, whatever it was, I suppose it worked!

I probably won't be able to call this a "Winter" Wren for long. To read more about the portending species split of the Winter and Pacific Wren, click here.