Tag Archives: Black-chinned Hummingbird

Birding at Estero Llano Grande State Park

When I arrived in Harlingen, Texas for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, I was overwhelmed with the many possibilities for birding in South Texas. I was delighted when a Twitter and Facebook friend, Marsha Kraus Fulton, contacted me and offered to take me birding at Estero Llano Grande State Park the next morning. Estero Llano Grande is located in Weslaco, Texas and is part of the World Birding Center network, which consists of nine locations in the Rio Grande Valley.

I was only a little late to meet Marsha in the parking lot. Fortunately, Marsha was familiar with the area, and she led the way through the birding center. As we walked across a stream into a wooded area, a Great Kiskadee greeted us with a series of loud calls.

Great Kiskadee, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Weslaco, Texas.

Great Kiskadee

I heard the call of the Great Kiskadee very frequently throughout my visit to the Rio Grande Valley. You can hear it here.

Next we walked to an area where Common Pauraques had been seen, and we were fortunate enough to see two of them. I would never have found them on my own, but Marsha knew where they had been seen. They blend so well with their surroundings that it is very difficult to see them, even when you know you are looking right at them.

Common Pauraque, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Weslaco, Texas.

Common Pauraque

After quietly oohing and aahing over the beautiful plumage of the Common Pauraque we walked over to the alligator pond. Although we did not see any alligators, we did see a White Ibis standing sentry over the pond.

White Ibis, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

White Ibis

We continued up onto the levee and stopped to watch American White Pelicans circling overhead. Their flight patterns reminded me of the Sandhill Cranes that we see in New Mexico.

American White Pelicans, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

American White Pelicans

A White-tailed Kite hunted along the levee …

White-tailed Kite, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

White-tailed Kite

… and a Turkey Vulture flew overhead.

Turkey Vulture, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Turkey Vulture

We continued into another wooded area where feeders had been set up. I loved the large Bougainvillea that were growing in this area.

Bougainvillea, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Bougainvillea

In the feeder area we saw a beautiful Golden-fronted Woodpecker feeding on citrus.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Plain Chachalaca announced themselves noisily.

Common Chachalaca, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Plain Chachalaca

You can hear the raucous call of these noisy birds here.

I saw a flash of color in the trees, and I saw my first Green Jay, one of the birds that I had really hoped to see during my visit.

Green Jay, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Green Jay

On the way to the hummingbird area, we paused to look at a few butterflies. We saw this lovely Dorantes Longtail (Urbanus dorantes).

Dorantes Longtail (Urbanus dorantes ) Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Dorantes Longtail (Urbanus dorantes )

Perhaps the highlight of our day was seeing the very rare Blomfild’s Beauty (Smyrna blomfildia), a lovely and rare butterfly, who was sitting on a feeder along with a very worn and tattered Mexican Bluewing female.

Blomfild's Beauty (Smyrna blomfildia), Weslaco, Texas.

Blomfild's Beauty (Smyrna blomfildia) and tattered Mexican Bluewing female.

After looking at the butterflies, we went over to the hummingbird area where we saw this pretty female Black-chinned Hummingbird …

Female Black-chinned Hummingbird, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Female Black-chinned Hummingbird

… and this lovely Buff-bellied Hummingbird.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Estero Llano Grande State Park.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Marsha was a wonderful guide, and I am very grateful for her kindness in showing me a beautiful birding area.

At the end of the day I began to dream of more lovely birds to see in the following days.

Moonrise at Estero Llano Grande

Moonrise at Estero Llano Grande

If you enlarge the photo, you will see that the black dot above and to the right of the rising moon is a Great Blue Heron flying overhead.

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Watch This Space

My friend Jill called me this weekend to say that she has a hummingbird nest with baby hummingbirds at her house. I went over to see them and found the nest in a Chinese pistache tree. The nest is a bit smaller than a golf ball.

Black-chinned Hummingbird nest, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Black-chinned Hummingbird nest

A closer look revealed two tiny hummingbird chicks in the nest.

Black-chinned Hummingbird chicks, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Black-chinned Hummingbird chicks

On the way home I saw these beautiful lilies. They have nothing to do with a post about hummingbird chicks, but they were lovely!

Lilies, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Lilies, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

If the hummingbird chicks thrive I will be posting periodic updates of their progress. Watch this space.

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Filed under Albuquerque birds, New Mexico birds, New Mexico scenery

A Summer Visit to Bosque del Apache

A couple of weekends ago Bosque Bill and I decided to visit Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Bill is very enthusiastic about dragonflies, and there are many of them at Bosque del Apache in summer. I am always up for a road trip. It had been several years since I had visited there in summer, and I was looking forward to seeing the refuge. I knew it would be hot, and so I packed lots of cold drinks along with a cold picnic lunch.

We arrived at the refuge at mid-morning. As usual, the view across the refuge toward the hills was lovely.

Looking across the refuge toward the hills, Bosque del Apache NWR.

Looking across the refuge toward the hills.

It was interesting to see that in summer, the areas which in fall and winter are ponds for migrating birds are covered with plants that will become food for ducks, geese and cranes when the ponding areas are flooded in fall.

Pond area, Bosque del Apache NWR

In fall this area will be flooded and will become a pond for migrating waterfowl.

With temperatures hovering near 100ºF there was not a great deal of bird activity, but we did see a few birds:

Great Blue Heron

A Great Blue Heron hunts in an acequia

Black Phoebe

A Black Phoebe hunts for insects at a pond on the Marsh Loop.

An unruly gang of Neotropic Cormorants were roosting on snags along the Seasonal road.

Neotropic Cormorants

Neotropic Cormorants

We saw Blue Grosbeaks and Northern Mockingbirds and a few raptors. Either they were too far away for photos, or I was not quick enough with my camera. What we did see were dragonflies. They were beautiful!

Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta)

Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta)

Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata)

Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata)

Blue Darter

Blue Darter

By early afternoon Bosque Bill and I were hot and tired, and we took a break to eat our picnic lunch and tour the Visitor’s Center. After a lovely lunch we walked around the Visitor’s Center. Bosque Bill flushed a large covey of Gambel’s Quail sheltering from the midday sun under a Three-Leaf Sumac. I don’t know who was more startled, Bill or the quail. I was laughing so hard that I didn’t get a photo.

I sat in the (blessedly) air-conditioned Visitor’s Center and enjoyed watching the birds at the feeders. Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds were very busy defending the food source. I took some photos through the viewing window.

Male Rufous Hummingbird

A male Rufous Hummingbird vigilantly guards the feeder.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbird.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds share the feeder with the Rufous Hummingbird.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbird.

Another look at the hummingbirds around the feeder.

There were Bullock’s and Scott’s Orioles at the feeders as well.

Scott's Oriole

The hummingbirds fled when a Scott's Oriole landed on the feeder.

Scott's Oriole

This Scott's Oriole likes hummingbird nectar.

Bullock's Oriole

A Bullock's Oriole watches from a nearby tree …

Bullock's Oriole

… and announces his arrival at the feeder.

Very few people visit Bosque del Apache in summer. It is hot, and it lacks the large numbers of migratory waterfowl that are present in the other seasons. There is still a great deal to see.

Flowers

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Hummingbird Chicks at the Rio Grande Nature Center

It has been extremely dry in New Mexico this year. There have been many terrible fires that have caused a great deal of damage. Because of the extreme fire damage, many of the areas that I like to visit to watch and photograph birds and wildlife have been closed to the public. Last weekend, after I visited a local Farmer’s Market, I decided to see if the Rio Grande Nature Center was open. The nature center and the grounds around it were open, although the part that extends into the Rio Grande Bosque was closed. While I was walking around the grounds, I saw quite a few Black-chinned Hummingbirds. One landed on a branch fairly close to me. As I stopped to observe her, I noticed that she had two chicks in a nest near where she landed. The nest was inside a large bush, and the lighting conditions were not the best. However, I was able to take a number of photographs.

Black-chinned Hummingbird chicks, Rio Grande Nature Center.

Black-chinned Hummingbird chicks.

Black-chinned Hummingbird chicks, Rio Grande Nature Center.

Black-chinned Hummingbird chicks, another angle.

Black-chinned Hummingbird chicks, Rio Grande Nature Center.

Waiting for Mom to come back to the nest.

I hoped that if I stayed quietly near the nest, the mother hummingbird would return to feed the chicks. I stood quietly and waited, and she arrived within five minutes.

Black-chinned Hummingbird Mom and chicks, Rio Grande Nature Center

Mom hummingbird arrives at the nest.

Black-chinned Hummingbird Mom and chicks, Rio Grande Nature Center,.

Feeding one of the chicks.

Black-chinned Hummingbird Mom and chicks, Rio Grande Nature Center.

The second chick looks impatient.

Black-chinned Hummingbird Mom and chicks, Rio Grande Nature Center.

The other chick is fed.

Black-chinned Hummingbird Mom and chicks, Rio Grande Nature Center.

An un-cropped photo shows how tiny the nest really is.

Apparently when Mom Hummingbird is not taking care of the chicks she can be found hanging out at the local bar.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Rio Grande Nature Center

Local hummingbird bar.

When I stopped by the Rio Grande Nature Center a little more than a week later, the chicks had fledged and the nest was deserted. I will check back to see if this little hummingbird mom will raise more chicks this year.

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Rosy Finch Banding at Sandia Crest

I was so happy that Catherine Hamilton, a lovely person and a brilliant artist, came to visit me in December. We had fun birding around the Albuquerque area. One of the “must-do” items on Catherine’s agenda was Rosy Finch banding at Sandia Crest. Catherine, Bosque Bill and I set off early on a cold Sunday morning hoping that the Rosy Finches would appear in significant numbers. It has not been a good snow year in the Sandias, and the Rosy Finches often do not come to the Crest House in large numbers if their other food sources are not covered with snow. However, when we drove into the parking lot at 9:00 a.m., the first thing that we saw was a huge flock of over 100 Rosy Finches circling the Crest House. Catherine jumped out and got all three species and a Steller’s Jay before Bill and I even managed to get our camera equipment together. The pressure was off, and we knew it was going to be an excellent day.

We went inside the Crest House to watch the birds and the banding. Rosy Finches were flying in from everywhere. The trees were full of them.

Rosy Finches in a piñon by the deck at the Crest House.

Rosy Finches in a piñon by the deck at the Crest House.

Even the trees below the deck were covered with Rosy Finches.

Rosy Finches wait in the trees below the deck at the Crest House.

Rosy Finches wait in the trees below the deck at the Crest House.

A Black Rosy-Finch studies the goodies on the deck at the Crest House.

A Black Rosy-Finch studies the goodies on the deck at the Crest House.

A Gray-crowned Rosy Finch flies towards the deck.

A Gray-crowned Rosy Finch flies towards the deck.

There are three Rosy Finch traps. The birds approach very enthusiastically.

Rosy Finches fly to the trap.

Rosy Finches fly to the trap.

Banding a captured Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch.

Banding a captured Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch.

Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy Finch wing stretch.

Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy Finch wing stretch.

Catherine Hamilton a/k/a @birdspot discusses the finer points of Rosy Finch identification with another birder.

Catherine Hamilton a/k/a @birdspot discusses the finer points of Rosy Finch identification with another birder.

Catherine really enjoyed watching the bird banding.

Catherine really enjoyed watching the bird banding.

Being there when the Rosy Finches are banded allows people to get really close looks at them.

Terry Hodapp gets a Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch ready for photographs.

Terry Hodapp gets a Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch ready for photographs.

Terry Hodapp holds a Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch while Steve Fettig takes photographs.

Terry Hodapp holds a Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch while Steve Fettig takes photographs.

Terry holds a Black Rosy-Finch for Steve to photograph.

Terry holds a Black Rosy-Finch for Steve to photograph.

A highlight of the day was Catherine’s releasing a Hepburn’s Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch.

Catherine carefully holds a Hepburn's Rosy Finch and prepares to release it …

Catherine carefully holds a Hepburn's Rosy Finch and prepares to release it …

Hepburn's Gray-crowned Rosy Finch release at Sandia Crest House, New Mexico.

… and it's gone.

We stayed at Sandia Crest for four hours. During that time the Rosy Finches continued to circle around and return to the deck. The trees were still full of finches when we left.

Here you can see all three species of Rosy-Finches.

Here you can see all three species of Rosy-Finches: Gray-crowned Rosy Finches, Brown-capped Rosy-Finches, and Black Rosy Finches.

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Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

American Wigeon


American Wigeon


American Wigeon

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Sunday Photo Blogging-Corrales Weekend Birds

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Corrales. I went for a short bike ride and did a little shopping, but mostly I worked in the garden. I took my camera with me as I worked.

The Western Scrub Jays and the Curve-billed Thrashers were busy at the peanut feeder behind the house.

Western Scrub Jay

Western Scrub Jay close up


Curve-billed Thrasher


Gambel’s Quail were enjoying the shelled peanuts that I put out on the garden wall.

Gambel's Quail Adult Male and Chick.


Gambel's Quail Chicks


The hummingbird feeders were popular with the migrating hummingbirds and a few lingering residents.

Female Rufous Hummingbird


Female Rufous Hummingbird and Male Black-chinned Hummingbird


Male Black-chinned Hummingbird


Female Black-chinned Hummingbird


Should I have been concerned that there were Turkey Vultures circling overhead?

Turkey Vultures


It’s always interesting to watch the birds around my house.

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