North American Birds

VOLUME 68 NO2 2015

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

Issue link: http://nab.aba.org/i/502371

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V O L U M E 6 8 ( 2 0 1 5 ) • N U M B E R 2 251 C o lo r a d o & W yo m i n g handful of Jan/Feb reports. Away from Arapahoe, Iceland Gulls were re- ported noted near Blende, Pueblo 26 Dec–2 Jan (†D. Silverman), Lake Loveland, Larimer 30 Dec–15 Jan (†NK), and Woods Lake, Weld 19 Feb (†SGM, SW). A Glaucous-winged Gull was a short-stayer at Pueblo Res. 11-14 Dec (†SGM); another was present 15-18 Feb (†BKP). A Herring Gull x Glaucous-winged Gull was also at Pueblo Reservoir 11 Dec (†SGM). Providing only Wyoming's fourth state record, the frst in winter, was a frst-cycle Great Black-backed Gull at Seedskadee N.W.R., Sweetwater 2 Jan (ph. M. Kenney). DOVES THROUGH MIMIDS White-winged Dove continues its Regional in- crease in numbers and distribution at all sea- sons, with reports from two w. and eight e. Colorado counties. As many as 4 were noted at Grand Junction in early Dec (fde CD), while the usual winter horde (maximum of 25, 9 Feb; DB, CT) was noted at Pueblo and the smaller group was again at Penrose, Fremont (maximum of 18, 15 Feb; P. Rooney). A Snowy Owl was well s. near Rush, Lincoln 26 Jan (†KM Dunning, †JK, J. Roller). An imm. Red-headed Woodpecker frequenting a backyard in Laramie, Albany 26- 29 Dec (D. Jones) provided just the ffth winter Wyoming report. All three of Colorado's typi- cal sapsucker species were present this season in usual haunts in Fremont and Pueblo; appar- ently no others were noted. Large numbers of Eastern Downy Woodpeckers were reported w. to the Front Range; how many were correctly identifed is not known. In an odd juxtaposi- tion, there were no Rocky Mountains Hairy Woodpeckers reported this season on the Plains for the frst time in recent memory. Adding to about 30 previous Wyoming winter reports, 90% from Dec/Jan, was a well-described dark- morph juv. Gyrfalcon near Monita, Fremont 8 Feb (DeN). Peregrine Falcons were much more numerous in Colorado than usual, with reports from 10 Colorado counties, only one westerly (Mesa, where the species is probably more reli- able in winter). Three Black Phoebes were found this winter, about on par with recent years, with singles at Cañon City, Fremont 30 Dec–7 Jan (RM), Florence, Fremont 25 Jan (RM), and Colorado Springs 17-18 Feb (†J. Olson). An above-aver- age 16 Say's Phoebes were found this winter pri- or to the arrival of spring migrants in late Feb; about half of these occurred around Denver and to the n. along the Front Range and adjacent Plains, where 1-2 per winter is the norm. The most northerly of these were 2 near Firestone, Weld 19 Dec (CS). Loggerhead Shrikes are not annual n. of Denver during winter, but singles were near Firestone, Weld 6 Feb (CS) and at Reservoir Ridge, Larimer 11 Feb (L. Foerster). Very rare in any season in w. Wyoming, and even more so in winter, was a Blue Jay on the Jackson Hole C.B.C., Teton 15 Dec (fde Jackson Hole Bird Club). Pinyon Jays surged downhill to the edges of the Front Range's coniferous woodlands, perhaps due to a rich seed crop, but only 2 at Parker, Douglas 14-17 Feb (m.ob.) actually wandered farther eastward; the spe- cies is not annual e. of the foothills. Steller's Jays strayed a short distance e. of the foothills in numbers far above normal, continuing the trend from fall. On the Plains, where casual, one was at Cottonwood, Baca/Las Animas 11 & 26 Jan (SGM, DD), 4 were near Fort Lyons, Las Animas 5-17 Dec (DuN), and one was a few km e. of Fort Lyons 24 Jan (LK, NE). As with Pinyon Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers moved downhill to the very edges of Colorado's pine woodlands in numbers well above average, but none ventured beyond these limits. Mountain Chickadees wandered into the westernmost Plains in fair numbers, but few wandered far- ther eastward. Up to 5 were at Cottonwood, Baca 11-26 Jan (SGM, DD, TS) and 4 at Rocky Ford, Otero 25 Jan (DD, TS). Black-capped Chickadee x Mountain Chickadee hybrids were detected at Barr Lake, Adams 19-22 Jan (SGM, SW) and Denver 13 Feb (AH); this hybrid has been found annually of late in Colorado. Red- breasted Nuthatches were essentially absent from the Plains, dropping from a recent mean frequency of 6-7% to 1% this winter (eBird data); indeed, the only reports from the Plains Sa Despite its landlocked geography, gulling in Colorado can be quite exciting in winter and early spring, and this season was no exception. Large gulls poured into the state along with the Arctic air of early Dec. This year's gull magnet was found to be a little-birded reservoir in the Denver Metro area: Aurora Reservoir, Arapahoe, which happens to be near the Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site. One unusual feature of this location is that Herring Gull numbers often approached, and sometimes exceeded, those of Ring-billed Gull, with an im- pressive maximum of 1000 Herring Gulls 3 Jan (SGM, KM-D). Rarities started to collect in Dec, starting with a frst-cycle Glaucous-winged Gull 9 Dec (DS). The next day, an ad. Great Black-backed Gull was noted (ph. GW), perhaps the same bird seen the day before not far away at Cherry Creek Reservoir, Arapahoe (DS). On 15 Dec, 2 large black-backed gulls were present (ph. DD), presumed at the time to both be Great Black-backed. Unfortunately, critical examination of photographs of the "second Great Black- backed Gull" from 15-16 Dec was not conducted until after Moulton's pictures from 30 Dec of the bird were available, and those pictures strongly suggested that the bird was a Slaty- backed Gull! The Aurora Reservoir park staf must have goggled at their visitation rates in Jan, as birding hordes descended upon the place. The Slaty-backed was noted through at least 19 Jan, possibly through 29 Jan, though by then, the often-distant views and the presence of at least 3 ad. Great Black-backed Gulls made for more than a bit of uncertainty. Other exceptional fnds included an an ad. Herring Gull x Lesser Black-backed Gull hy- brid 22 Dec–6 Jan (ph. SGM, SW), the frst Colorado occurrence, and the rediscovery of Nov's Laughing Gull x Ring-billed Gull hybrid 7 Feb (ph. DD). Notable high counts included 10 Thayer's 15 Dec and 10 Lesser Black-backed 22 Dec (both SGM, SW) and a Colorado record 4 Great Black-backed Gulls 26 Dec (DS). Gulls moved in and out of the reservoir throughout each day, and throughout the sea- son, so the total number of unusual gulls present is mpossible to know. Minimum seasonal totals, in addition to those noted above, include 2 Mew Gulls (frst-cycle 25 Jan [SB, LM]; ad. 26 Feb [DD]); 11 Thayer's Gulls; 3 Iceland Gulls; 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls; 3 Herring Gull x Glaucous-winged Gull hybrids; 3 Glaucous-winged Gulls; and 9 Glaucous Gulls. Lapland Longspurs, such as this adult male, are not at all common on the Colorado plains adjacent to the Front Range. Additionally, the heavily wooded city and county of Denver has little in the way of large open areas, making the species particularly rare there. This individual (one of at least three present at the site) in the northeastern corner of the Denver International Airport footprint 29 January 2014 provided a rare county record. Photograph by Doug Kibbe.

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