Since my last update, most of the Great Horned Owl little ones I’ve been checking on have really started to mature, and I’ve seen several new birds and butterflies for the year with lots more to come as spring migration gets underway. Our Audubon Thursday Birder trip on April 19 to my local patch of Embudito turned up a good variety of birds starting with a Greater Roadrunner on the roof of someone’s house by the parking lot, pretty good looks at a singing Canyon Wren, and most of the other regulars for this time of year. We’d hoped to spot the Scott’s Oriole expected about then, but didn’t see it that day although it has since been reported. Bird of the day for me was a Gray Flycatcher that we got a nice look at, but is so unusual around here (and a bit tricky to identify from other similar species) it was good to see the identity confirmed later on eBird. Interestingly, a few days later I got a good look at a Rock Wren where I’ve only ever seen it before in winter and got a really good shot of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher the group had seen.
It was also good to see that the latest Osprey nest seems to be holding up against a few of those long windy periods we’ve been having. Their first nest blew away a couple of times before they tried again in another spot nearby. The female seems to be sitting on the nest these days with the male hanging out unless he’s off getting food.
Fun that day following up on eBird reports to find another rookery, this time right in town close by the river. Unlike my visit a couple weeks ago to the one in Bosque Farms, this time the Snowy Egrets had arrived and were displaying their breeding plumage.
Another one was obviously having a bad hair day with the wind blowing.
This rookery is in a couple of big ponderosas and while much smaller than the one in Bosque Farms also had Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night-herons getting into nesting.
A highlight this week was getting to see a Common Black-Hawk down at Valle de Oro NWR after getting directions to a nest from my friend Reuben. While I’m still not sure I really saw the nest, it was in the same location I’d heard about last year and as I approached the adult squawked and flew to an open branch to keep an eye on me.
At the first Great Horned Owl nest I’d heard about this year between the Nature Center and Campbell Road, one of the little ones was looking pretty well along when I stopped by on April 20; earlier in the month I’d seen two little ones there but didn’t see the younger one that day.
The next day, I checked in on the latest to nest at Piedras Marcadas Dam. Mom was sitting up higher making me suspect she’d hatched at least one, and Dad was still around keeping an eye on things.
On a quick visit a week later, sure enough I could see one of those fuzzy white tennis balls popping its head up now and then so my suspicion was correct although it’ll be a couple more weeks before they’re easy to see.
At the National Hispanic Culture Center where a recent brushfire had nearly taken out the nest, the one remaining owlet was much further along in growing up.
The young ones at Albuquerque Academy, however, on a visit Saturday morning were the most mature of all, with both adults off hiding somewhere and all three little ones taking up different spots reasonably close to the nest. I’d think they probably still haven’t quite caught on to the flying thing and are walking along the branches now, but it won’t be long until they start practicing flying in the nest tree and to nearby trees until that day comes that they will just disappear.
The latest Audubon Thursday Birder trip headed down to the Belen Marsh and Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area on a pleasant morning and ending up with a good total of 51 species exceeding our success criterion of wanting to see more birds than we have people. At the Belen Marsh, we had a few good birds including plenty of Black-necked Stilts and Killdeer,
along with a close fly-by of the first of several Swainson’s Hawks we’d see.
It was kind of fun at Whitfield to spot probably our best birds of the day right at the start, a Bullock’s Oriole,
and then at the end as we were getting ready to head to lunch, seeing a Forster’s Tern hitting the pond to grab a few minnows.
While we have gotten out for butterflies a few times and it’s been fun spotting several new species for the season, such as Two-tailed Swallowtail, Juniper Hairstreak, Silvery Blue, Western Tailed-Blue, Hoary Comma, Pacuvius Duskywing, and Bronze Roadside-Skipper, I’m hoping to get a few better pictures for future blog updates soon. Also looking forward to seeing lots of birds migrating through in the next few weeks.