2birdfeature #7: Striking Warblers

Warblers are a big deal during June in Newfoundland. They come in, guns blazing, ready to party. Ready to sing all hours of the morning and night and make babies. It looks like they're having a lot of fun. Really, they're desperately trying to pass on their genetic material and guard their nests while hopefully not being eaten. Less pleasure, more business. I chose two bright, summery little warblers for today's post to spite the coming Newfoundland weather. Our winters are rough, guys. First of all, it's Canada. Second, we're on a giant rock in the middle of the North Atlantic. Allow me the summery warblers, please.

YELLOW WARBLER

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The term "migratory" refers to movement. Across the globe, or perhaps a few kilometres. MIgratory birds spend different parts of the year in different places with great purpose. Each place constitutes the perfect conditions for a specific species' breeding and wintering seasons. June in Canada is a great place to hatch chicks. It's not too hot and not too cold. And O, the trees!

Yellow Warblers winter in the southern United States, Central America and South America (Bolivia and Amazonian Brazil). They eat insects and the occasional berry. They're quite abundant in the world and a common sight at backyard bird feeders.

MAGNOLIA WARBLER

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Magnolia Warblers winter in Central America and the Carribean. They eat mostly moth larvae and spiders. They're common despite their long-distance migration, though slightly less common in recent years due to deforestation.

This Sunday on the blog: a mammal that lives deep in the Louisiana bayou!

Birds of River Ridge Farm, My Home

While River Ridge Farm is, of late, garnering more attention for its miniature donkeys (cue adorable baby born just last month)... 20130519-DSCN0337

...I have found that the diversity of birds that live here share an almost equal intrigue. Colorado is a great spot for birds. Period. It lies on the border of the Pacific and Central flyways and has many great bird life events like mass migrations, leks and a large-scale altitude coverage with many ecozones. And growing up in the Rocky Mountains had its perks, let me tell ya. I could (and still can) look out the window of my home on River Ridge Farm and see ten different passerine birds in the willow tree out back. This is overstimulation for me. Too exciting.

Resuming my coverage of my trip home to Hotchkiss, I thought I would share some pictures with you of birds that frequent the farm where I grew up.

Let's get back to those Black-chinned Hummingbirds. They are stunning, are they not?

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Later in the summer, a handful of other hummingbird species will make this valley their home. I was once swarmed by hundreds of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at Black Mesa Lodge, a beautiful cabin in the mountains where folks throw parties and weddings. One of the clumsy little fellows smashed into a large picture window and I recall my exaltation as I picked him up, stroked his tiny belly and watched the sense come flooding back into him. He sat perched on my index finger for some time until I placed him on the branch of a tree and watched him speed away. The entire bird seemed to weigh less than a robin feather, if you can believe it.

And what's this trying to sneak a sip out of the hummingbird feeder but a Bullock's Oriole. Beautifully colored birds but frankly, lousy singers and petulant souls when their bill fails to fit into the feeder slot for the millionth time.

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In taking a brief recess from the birds, I would like to share two wonderful things with you. First, a picture of my backyard, as it were. That is Mount Lamborn.

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And second, a photo of the quirkiest guy I know. Dundee, our Westie. I could write volumes on the life of Dundee but I would like to dedicate an entire post to that. Here is Dundee's blue steel face:

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I digress. A Yellow Warbler should get us back on track.

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And take a look at the iridescent head and neck feathers on this Common Grackle (I think Great-tailed Grackles have a bit longer tail than this guy but I could be wrong, both species exist in this area of CO).

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Before you think that songbirds are stealing the show, take note of this female Ring-necked Pheasant that frequented our hay-field every morning that I was home.

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I ended up calling this next American Robin, "Fatsy Cline" because he/she is fat and that's what I call everything that is cute and fat.

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And last, the bird I seek out every time I'm in Hotchkiss for even a day, the Western Meadowlark. One of my all-time favorites because I attribute its song to crisp Sunday mornings in the summertime at home.

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Plus, what's not to love about a round yellow chest sporting a thick black necklace...on things that are not human.

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