Let the Nesting Season Begin!

In my last update, I mentioned how a few of us had been searching old hawk nests recently looking for nesting Great Horned Owls, one of the earliest breeders every year, and described the one seen last Friday roosting in the Rt. 66 Open Space.  After seeing reports on ebird.org of nesting owls at both the Tingley Ponds and Rio Grande Nature Center, I was motivated to try tracking them down on Monday and can report great success in quickly finding them both!

The female owl at the Nature Center was taking a break perching just next to the nest when I first arrived, but resumed sitting on the nest a short time later.  We’d see her again with the Thursday Birder group later in the week, when everybody in the group got a nice look at her.

Great Horned Owl - Rio Grande Nature Center

Great Horned Owl - Rio Grande Nature Center

The one at Tingley is in just about the only abandoned Cooper’s Hawk nest I’ve seen in that area, and both on Monday and on a return visit this weekend was awake but firmly nestled in her nest.

Great Horned Owl - Tingley Ponds

Great Horned Owl - Tingley Ponds

Great Horned Owls have nested in several other areas around town in recent years, so I’ll keep looking to see if I can find some more.

A week ago Saturday, Rebecca and I headed off to Galisteo and Cochiti Lake on a chill windy day unsuccessfully looking for the uncommon sparrows at Galisteo Creek and the Pacific Loon that had been reported at Cochiti.  We did, however, get great looks at flocks of Mountain Bluebirds, both on County Road 42 west of Galisteo and then again in Pena Blanca.

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

Birding was productive in Embudito Canyon this week, which I visited on Tuesday and after a substantial overnight snowfall again on Wednesday.  Among the birds seen there on Tuesday was a group of Black-throated Sparrows, one of whom posed nicely to have its picture taken.

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

As usual, the Curve-billed Thrashers also insisted that their picture get taken too.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

Another one, however, was being coy hiding out in a scrub oak and just chuckling away until finally letting itself be seen.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Curve-billed Thrasher

A male Ladder-backed Woodpecker also made an appearance that day.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

On the way back to my car, a Cactus Wren popped up and noisily got my attention.  It may have been upset about something and seems a bit grouchy in this picture.

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

After almost five inches of snow that night, the next day turned out quite sunny and warm, and the birds seemed to enjoy perching in the sun to soak up the warmth as the snow quickly melted.

Canyon Towhee

Canyon Towhee

Saturday, Rebecca joined me for another unsuccessful owl quest, where we checked out the Pueblo Montano Open Space and then North Corrales where Great Horned Owls have nested in the past.   We also made a couple of stops at the Alameda Open Space to scan the huge flock of Ring-billed Gulls for the presence of one of the other single individuals of other species that are being reported, including the Thayer’s I’d seen with Matt a few weeks ago, a Franklin’s which would be obvious with its black head and red bill, a California that had been reported two days earlier, and a Mew.  We’re pretty sure we did finally see the Mew Gull, having it in the scope for a couple of minutes to note its unmarked yellow bill and tan splotches on the back of its neck.

In the new wildlife ponds at Alameda, we were surprised to see such a large number of Wood Ducks.   They are usually pretty common at the Nature Center, but this year more are being seen at Alameda, which raises the question of whether or not they chose it themselves or were moved there by wildlife staff.

Wood Ducks

Wood Ducks

Rambling through the open space in North Corrales early in the afternoon was quite pleasant as the day warmed in the bright sun.  A new birding spot for me and one I’m sure to visit again soon.  A  highlight of the day was this active Ruby-crowned Kinglet that circled quite closely around us.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
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2 Responses to Let the Nesting Season Begin!

  1. Matt says:

    It sounds like the longspur quest didn’t happen last week. Bad conditions or lack of interest?

    I’m glad you got lucky and were able to see the Mew Gull last week. I’m hoping it’s still around on Thursday for this week’s trip. Afternoon (3 PM on) seems to be the best time (or the time when people have seen it), though.

  2. Bad conditions – snow the day before made for muddy roads and wind was ridiculous so we decided on RGNC instead. Interesting re the Mew; we saw it about 3:15 on Saturday.

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