The Usual and the Unusual

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 Yampavian Ranch Bird Activity- Winter 2008-2009

Now that winter is fading fast, I thought I would highlight what has been both usual and unusual about the birds on the ranch these past few months.  What has been unusual this winter is that not a single unusual bird has shown up at our feeders. Almost every winter since we have lived here, we have had a rarity or two visit us.  

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Two years ago a female pheasant appeared around Thanksgiving; we guessed that she might have been an escapee from a nearby game farm. She came reliably to the feeder throughout that winter and well into the spring; when she wasn't feeding, she roosted under the branches of our tallest Colorado blue spruce next to the county road.  Early in May she suddenly stopped showing up, and we feared that the resident fox might have been responsible for her demise.  Last winter we had an invasion of Common Redpoll as well as a large flock of Rosy-finches (Grey-capped, Brown-capped, and Black).  The Rosy-finches ate us out of house and home, but we loved hosting them.  Because of the redpolls and rosy-finches, we also hosted birders from other parts of Colorado (as well as from out-of-state) who needed to add these birds to their life or county lists.   

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This winter the common birds at our feeders have been the usual suspects for Northwest Colorado- Red-winged Blackbirds, American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, Black-billed Magpies, Eurasian Collared Doves, and a few Downy Woodpeckers.   Recently, several Juncos arrived along with a few American Tree Sparrows, a single Evening Grosbeak, and a single Spotted Towhee.  Perhaps, the only bird that stayed throughout the winter that might be considered unusual (at least for Colorado) was the American Robin. Flocks of robins have been seen on the ranch as well as all over the county. In the past we have seen an occasional robin late into December, but this year they never left the area, apparently feasting off the huge berry crop from last summer.  

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I know that spring is fast approaching now because the last few days I have heard the resident pair of Great-horned owls hooting to each other late at night, and the Sandhill Cranes calling their magnificent call in the early morning.  The snow is melting, and I can hardly wait to see what will show up during this spring's migration. 

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This page contains a single entry by Nancy published on March 16, 2009 11:09 AM.

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