Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Early February in Chiricahua Mountains

We arrived at Rusty's RV Ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico on February 17th.  We got our home on wheels set up and eagerly explored a few of the local birding hotspots.

This was our first winter sojourn into the Chiricahua Mountains and San Simon Valley during the winter. We were shocked at how brown the surrounding fields and mountains were. During our previous stay for the summer monsoons, it was like the garden of eden; everything was green. With some snow still visible, it still looks like winter in the Chiricahuas, but the temperatures were in the 70s & 80s. It was just beautiful.

Rusty's was filled with wintering sparrows. We had singing White-crown sparrows, Vesper & Brewer's Sparrows along with House Finches singing from the tree tops. We even had a few Pine Siskins out our window. There were a pair of Great Horned Owls in the trees outside of our trailer...we could hear them hooting to each other periodically during the night.

The following are photos of a few of the critters we have seen in the past few days.

The Mourning Cloak Butterfly is one of the first signs of spring. It emerges from its hibernation during the first spring thaw.

This male Black-chinned Sparrow landed right next to us and started singing his heart out! He is not in full breeding plumage yet but maybe looking for a mate. We looked and looked for this bird last summer and only had a few fleeting glances...so this was a wonderful surprise:-)
 Black-throated Sparrow was hanging out with a number of sparrows at the Willow Tank watering hole.

 This Canyon Towhee was hanging out with the Black-throated Sparrows

 White-crowned Sparrow- easy to confuse with Chipping Sparrow- the pink bill and line from the back of the eye is diagnostic ( I had someone catch that I had mis-labeled on my Flickr site- how cool is that)
 This Curved-billed Thrasher was digging for some grubs in the dirt
 We think this is an Eastern Meadowlark. The Eastern Meadowlark's song helps to easily determine if it is an Eastern or Western variety. This bird was not singing. But the Eastern's cheek patch is much lighter than the Western's. The yellow under the throat on the Western's spreads into the cheek area and, as you can see, there is no yellow on this bird's cheek.
 We had to look hard to determine if this was a Hairy or Downy Woodpecker...we have not been seeing these birds for awhile so we had to really examine the bill length. The bill on the Downy Woodpecker is tiny compared to the Hairy Woodpecker. We concluded this was indeed a Hairy Woodpecker.
 Hermit Thrush...see the rufous rump.
 Lark Bunting in non-breeding plumage

 Pyrrhuloxia are very vocal right now...they must be trying to establish breeding territories or attract a mate
 This Ruby-crowned Kinglet was stealing an insect from the spider's web:-)
This Rufous-crowned Sparrow made it easy to identify since it was singing its distinctive song

This White-crowned Sparrow was checking us out.
The Gray-headed subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco...I am hoping to get a better photo for our records. This Junco and the Yellow-eyed Junco were feeding together on the South Fork Road.
Yellow-eyed Junco

A beautiful waterfall being fed by melting snow

The World is Full of Beauty & Wonder,

Turtle & Hawk

1 comment:

  1. I love how you appreciate the beauty of every bird -- there was a time some years ago when I thought, "Oh it's just another sparrow." But now I'm delighted when I can identify different sparrows. It's always a thrill for us to see Black-throated or Black-chinned Sparrows. :-)