Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Good Weekend for New Winter Birds

Left: Fox sparrow

I birded both Saturday and Sunday mornings this weekend. Yesterday was warm and sunny; today very cool and overcast.

Yesterday, I walked the chat trail back to the barrow pit in Lake Wichita Park. Today I did the same and then drove over to the Lake Wichita spillway.

I've worked hard to learn the sparrows better over the past few years, and we definitely have a lot of sparrows in our area during the winter. These "LBJ's" (little brown jobs) are often ignored by most beginning birders as they often appear for just brief seconds before diving into the grass or shrubs. You have to know what field marks to look for and you have to see them quickly.

Yesterday, along the chat trail I did see my first two fox sparrows of the year. Fortunately, they attracted my attention by calling. Then it was a matter of continuing to watch the ground in a sheltered area, waiting for them to start scratching around. Today, I saw my first three field sparrows along the chat trail. These delicate little birds are among my favorites. Then over at the spillway, I saw one Harris's sparrow mixed with a flock of white-crowned sparrows. White-crowned sparrows are ubiquitous and it is tempting to go on to something else as soon as you see the first one, but anytime you see a flock of sparrows, do a quick scan of the group as there may be more than one species mixed together.

My bird list for Saturday: mallard, ruddy duck, bufflehead, northern shoveler, green-winged teal, northern pintail, greater yellowlegs, killdeer, ring-billed gull, double-crested cormorant, Cooper's hawk, American coot, pied-billed grebe, northern harrier, downy woodpecker, northern flicker (yellow-shafted), Eurasian collared dove, brown thrasher, northern mockingbird, Carolina chickadee, ruby-crowned kinglet, blue jay, cardinal, yellow-rumped warbler, song sparrow, fox sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, red-winged blackbird, and American goldfinch.

For Sunday: great blue heron, bufflehead, ruddy duck, northern shoveler, redhead duck, green-winged teal, double-crested cormorant, pied-billed grebe, American coot, killdeer, common snipe, ring-billed gull, rock pigeon, Eurasian collared dove, blue jay, cardinal, northern mockingbird, American robin, American goldfinch, red-winged blackbird, great-tailed grackle, common grackle, European starling, spotted towhee, Harris's sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, song sparrow, field sparrow.

This is also the second weekend of Project Feederwatch. Although the count isn't over for the weekend, so far I've had white-winged dove, Eurasian collared dove and Inca dove, as well as house sparrows, juncos, house finches and gold finches. One odd note. I had two white-winged doves were much darker than the others. There were a couple of other different things about them as well. It was the first time I have seen them. It would be nice if I could get a decent picture.

Good birding!


Gnarly Mesquite said...

Nice birding! I love looking for sparrows, too!
And at my house the dove populations changed: Six Incas and one White-winged. (?) It's been several dozen White-winged and zero Incas for the past three years.

Penny Miller said...

Glad to meet someone else who enjoys the sparrows--we have some beautiful ones, especially in the winter.

I have had friends comment that they have more Inca doves this year than they've had in a while. No one seems to be noticing any decline in white-winged dove populations though. I have three Inca doves every day and easily 20 - 30 white-wings and of course, Eurasian collared doves. Not many mourning doves. I see plenty around, especially outside the city limits, but not in my yard.

Thanks for reading.