I never was much of a “smaller bird” watcher in Florida … don’t know why, but I just wasn’t. Probably though I found them a bit frustrating to photograph as they darted in and out of the bushy trees. LOL. However, here on the western slope, I find it more fun to photograph them and have learned a whole lot about them.
On of the more popular and quite beautiful birds that we get is the Bullock’s oriole. Being mostly bright orange with a black crown and eye line they are quite easily spotted as they dart from tree to bushes, feeding on berries, fruits, and small insects.
They are one of only a few species that will eject the eggs of a pesky cowbird that has slipped one of their own eggs into the orioles nest for them to raise. Quite fascinating.The male blue grosbeak is another that is easily spotted and identified in good light. Its behavior of feeding is quite similar to that of orioles. It’s quite a beautifully colored bird.Though I can’t identify birds by their songs and sounds to save myself, that doesn’t mean that I don’t try. LOL. Often I hear songs that I believe are one species … only to find a northern mockingbird instead. They are the masters of mimickery (is that even a word?) for sure. I always wonder why a bird named “northern” would be primarily found in the south … right? It’s the state bird of 5 states (Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, and Mississippi) … those aren’t even remotely “northern”. Go figure.Another beautiful bird that we never had in Florida is the lark sparrow. I personally love its striped head and social nature. An interesting fact about lark sparrow is that when on the ground, they only hop around, as opposed to walk around, when they’re in courtship mode, which in itself is quite fascinating. Love this one with its “bonus bug” in its beak.There are many different types of swallows here on the western slope, including the ever-abundant barn swallow, whose range is almost the entire lower 48 + AK + Canada and Mexico. They have deeply forked tails and the females tend to prefer those males with the longest tails … I guess that (tail) size does matter! LOL Northern rough-winged swallows have a similar geographical range. They are pretty much less colorful or striking to view as the others. This pair I would see on the same branch almost every time I looked. I’ve had quite the hummingbird education since I’ve been in Colorado. In my backyard, the black-chinned hummingbirds are my most common hummingbird visitors. I saw my first hummingbird nests and was astonished to see just how very tiny they are. Did you know that this species’ nest can also expand to accommodate the growing nestlings? Now that’s amazing to me!The water birds can be fun to photograph as well. Two of them are my personal favorites for this area. The American avocet is quite beautiful with the daintiest long curled upward beaks ever. Another favorite of mine are the killdeer … which you will undoubtedly hear long before you see them scurrying about. Such characters they are … and quite beautiful as well.Now, of course, anyone who knows me knows that birds of prey are my favorite birds. This amazing Cooper’s hawk is just one of many that call my area home.During the late spring and summer, we also get Swainson’s hawks. When they call out, to me, they sound just like red-tailed hawks and their call is sure to make your hair on your neck stand up. LOLBeing from Florida I was quite used to reptiles (lizards, alligators, non-native iguanas), but here we have numerous species of our own lizards.My favorite one is the collared lizard, which I was in search of and when I finally found one, I stopped in my tracks. I was so impressed with their colors and patterns in their skin.They’re also quite tolerant of the observer … but rest assured I photographed these using my car as a blind because I was so excited and really didn’t want to alter it from sunning itself.I’m also quite impressed with those long claws … such fascinating creatures too. When the mom lays her eggs, she leaves and the young emerge having to fend for themselves right from the start. Amazing, huh? Can’t wait until next spring/summer to see more!Hope that everyone enjoyed this week’s post. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment if you would like.
Next Up: I’m missing the beach … so let’s hit the ocean!
© 2018 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy