Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Birdwatching at the Morrison Natural History Museum!

Last Monday, a snow storm hit Colorado....in the middle of May.  Although it snowed even as much as sixteen inches in some places, it melted pretty quickly afterwards, leaving an excellent opportunity for many birds that rely on insects for their meals.  After a rain, you can often see birds like the American robin or flicker foraging around (click HERE to read more), using the soft ground to their advantage to try and catch insects that were washed up out of the ground.  After the snow, it seems like a number of birds were attempting to do the same thing.  As I was closing up, I looked out behind the Morrison Natural History Museum, and noticed a bonanza of birds!  I ran downstairs and grabbed my camera, and tried to get some good shots.  Here, we have a male western bluebird (Sialia mexicana), perching on one of the blocks of sandstone from the historic Quarry 5 in Morrison.  This block contains dinosaur bone, making it ironic that the bluebird, a dinosaurian descendant itself, perched upon the block.
There were plenty of American robin (Turdus migratorius) running around, and got a few shots of them!
As we talked about in a PREVIOUS POST, winter causes many birds, including the American robin, to decrease their territoriality, and flock together.
There were several lark bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys) hopping around.  The lark bunting is actually the state bird of Colorado!
A European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) probes the ground.
There were several more male and female western bluebirds flitting around, and I got some pictures of them that I really like!  Below is a female perched on the fence next to the Jurassic Garden!
A male perched on a fence.  Notice the sexual dimorphism displayed here; the male displays much more vibrant plumage than does the female.
A female perched near my car!
Sometimes, I am really, really bad at identifying birds.  Below are two pictures of birds that I think I have identified correctly, but am not positive.  The first I think is a picture of a pair of chipping sparrows (Spizella passerina).
This one gave me a bit more trouble.  I think this bird is either a western wood-pewee (Contopus sordidulus) or a least flycatcher (Empidonax minimus).
Finally, a yellow-rumped warbler (Dendroica coronata)!

Works Cited:

Robbins, C. S., Bruun, B., & Zim, H. S. (1983). Birds of North America. New York: Golden Press.

Stokes, D. W., & Stokes, L. Q. (2010). The Stokes field guide to the birds of North America. New York: Little, Brown.

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