Friday, July 3, 2015

A Couple More Kingbird Pictures

Peter Pyle sent a note about molt in the Tropical Kingbirds being seen in Ontario and Minnesota. I do have a couple of photos (not the best quality) of the Minnesota bird preening.
 I had to enlarge a distant shot for these but it does give a little better  look at the wing. Not sure if this helps the discussion.
If the bird stays around the opportunity to get better pictures is there. I'm sure there will be updates every day.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Minnesota's First Tropical Kingbird

      I love when a rare bird shows up close to where I live because, in general, I don't spend a lot of effort in chasing rarities. However, when a great find occurs in a place I bird anyway it is easy to chase. This morning I chased the first occurrence of a Tropical Kingbird in Minnesota at Murphy-Hanrahan Park south of Minneapolis in Scott County. There is a previous bird up north that was determined to be a Tropical/Couch's Kingbird but never was identified as  to species. This bird was heard to vocalize and clinched it's ID as Tropical Kingbird.
     These photos were taken at a relatively close distance and I have enlarged them to show a bit more detail. Fortunately we were able to see the bird in the top of a dead sapling and got great views for about 5 minutes.
   Several of us watched as the bird flew off the perch and nabbed a meal in the air and then returned
to it's perch.   

   This shot is of the notched tail with a bit of wear (not easy to see in photo). The bird did not seem to be affected by our presence. It did tend to move around the area quite a bit and there were several Great Crested Flycatchers that were very active in the same vicinity.

    The bird has been present in this location for about a week so I think the chances are good it may hang around for a bit longer. Good bird to chase if you are near the Twin Cities.

Friday, May 15, 2015

This Could Be It!

Looking at the radar tonight the images are looking better in the Great Lakes region than they have for a long time. The movement north is huge. This is what it looks like at 10:30 pm:

   We band both tomorrow and Sunday if the weather holds out. I would put off the spring cleaning just a little while longer and get into the field.

Have fun!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Migration on Radar

I thought I'd try to put together a little video clip of tonight's migration lift-off in the southern U.S.. The front that is bringing the storms to the midwest is also slowing migration in the area. Lots of birds in the air in the south!
Hopefully these birds will spend a little time in Minnesota too.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Migration Along the West Coast

   Checking radar this morning it looks like a pretty good movement of migrants along the west coast, especially central California and the Pacific Northwest. Should be good birding this weekend. Radar image below is from 8:30 CST of 6:30 Pacific time.
   In the midwest and east the weather is unsettled so I'm not sure there was much movement last night. The really nice weather in my area (Minnesota) has brought in a lot of new species in the last week. All of our lakes have opened (ice-out) and the waterfowl are picking up the pace heading north. First warblers, Yellow-rumps, are showing up and early sparrows are here too.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring is on it's Way.

With the continuing warming (admittedly in fits and starts) I've been trying to get around and see what new birds have been arriving. At the same time I was able to spend a few days in Tampa, Florida over my spring break. It was a family trip so I didn't do as much birding as I would have on my own but we got to see a Twins spring training game and got to the beach a couple of times. I really felt out of my element in Florida. Trees with leaves, humidity and bird calls that were unfamiliar to my ears. When we got back we found snow still on the ground but a variety of new migrants in the field.

Here is a collection of photos from the last couple of weeks.

 This is a very distant photo of the Long-tailed Duck that showed up above the Coon Rapids Dam in Anoka, Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. It is still there as of today but should be moving on soon.
 In Florida I discovered some really nice county parks that were close to our hotel. I had a lot of fun using my new camera lens on these birds along a boardwalk. This Limpkin acted like I wasn't even there.
 My wife pointed out this Black-crowned Night Heron as we walked through a cypress swamp one morning. Again, a very cooperative bird.
 I was very excited to see Swallow-tailed Kites while in Tampa. I haven't seen one since I was in Costa Rica years ago.
 Back home I went out and drove the back roads in the county where migrants are slowly beginning to show up. Horned Larks have been around for quite a while now but they are beginning to really sing recently.
 A young Red-tailed Hawk was looking for a meal along a roadside in Dakota County.
It must have figured it wouldn't have much luck as long as I was sitting there trying to get its picture. The interesting thing in this photo is the contrast between the wing feathers. It looks like the secondaries and tertials have been replaced and are fresh. The primaries look dull. I don't know much about wing molt in Red-tails but I'm thinking this is a pretty good example of a molt limit. Along with the tail I would guess this is a second year (SY) bird.

Migration is picking up so make sure you get outside and keep looking up!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sax-Zim Bog Trip - Hoary Redpoll

   So I went up to northern Minnesota with a couple of friends yesterday to do a little winter birding. It was COLD. The temperature never got above zero degrees but we did see some great birds. Top of the list was a Great Gray Owl that we saw as we started to head home. Literally the last tick on the checklist for the day. Saw big numbers of Pine Siskins, Purple Finches and Common Redpolls. Which brings me to the purpose of this post.

   I saw what I believe is a Hoary Redpoll in a small group of redpolls along Admiral Road (just south of the feeders for those who know the area).

    Here are some photos that I hope will be definitive.

    The bird was very light. Only had faint streaking on sides and color on chest confined to small area.
     Compared to other bird in picture bill looks shorter. Yes, I know head angle can distort this but I'm giving it a shot.
    Unfortunately I couldn't get a shot of the back. I'm throwing it out there folks - does anyone think this is good enough to be called a Hoary Redpoll. We saw dozens and dozens of redpolls yesterday and I saw 2 that I put into the Hoary category. Now I'm hoping you can tell me if you agree or disagree and why.

   Besides this puzzle we had a really good day but struck out on a couple of what should have been easy finds. No White-breasted Nuthatch and no American Goldfinch. Go figure!

   Thanks for the input.