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Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Thursday July 17, 2014
An Undertone in the Hummingbird's Song
Just because you “hear” it doesn’t mean that you REALLY hear it. Auditory technology has come along way, so that you can hear what this hummingbird song really is all about:
- Listen Closely: There's Something Hidden in This Hummingbird's Chirp | WNPR News
Here's the thing about hummingbirds: Almost nothing they do is like a regular bird. A hummingbird's heart beats about 1,200 times a minute while exercising
Another Raptor Dies Due to Rat Poison
With great sadness, I must announce the untimely death of Ruby, a former resident of Cambridge, MA. What killed her? Rat poison. Rat poison forces a rat to go outside in search of water, and a raptor is a sitting duck for the silent killer. Please say ‘no’ to rat poison. You could save a raptor’s life. Rodenticides cause a horrible death.
Thanks, Mexico, For Your Work on the Military Macaw!
There has been an important victory in Mexico for the Military Macaw, due to conservation efforts. If you hire a bird watching tour on Puerto Vallarta, the money will help support the local conservation. Mexican authorities, thanks so much for your help!
- Guarding the Military Macaw - Defenders of Wildlife Blog
Thanks to our monitoring program, dozens of endangered military macaws were saved from poachers this year!
The Week at a Glance
Young birds are all around the lake for all to see. This crop of fledglings is a little larger than last year, and we have more Northern Cardinals and Brown Thrashers, just like many of you all over the country. Yes, there are years when there seems to be a favored species, so it is not your imagination. We are experiencing two days of rain, and I was fortunate to be able to travel between raindrops yesterday. Today is for a much needed rest, as well as observing the birds that come to visit me. They literally DO visit, for I have hosted the Song Sparrow, the Northern Mockingbird, House Finch, and a number of others. Some stay longer than others, and some have even helped themselves to nesting material, and they are polite visitors, for they leave me nothing unnecessary.
Snowy Egret at the Northern Reaches
All is well at the Northern Reaches, especially the beautiful heron clan. As you know, there is a rookery here, and it draws many for both nesting and resting purposes. A couple of days ago, the striking Snowy Egret was here to visit, and I managed to get this shot. This water bird is smaller than the Great Egret, and moves about more quickly in the water, namely to stir up those dwellers on the surface, a wonderful food source.
Great Egret was not far, as a matter of fact, about eight feet away from Snowy Egret. This lovely and less traveled area hosts a number of birds not normally found on the main part of the lake, and it is much more difficult to find them in the thick foliage. However, if one has a finely tuned ear, those priceless species are at the ready. My plan is to stay close to the area when fall arrives and the leaves start dropping, for there will be an assortment of woodpeckers and songbirds. Additionally, I expect a number of migrant water and shorebirds to settle for a few days, too. Fall migration has already begun in the northern states and Canada, so there should be some good finds upcoming. They will be a little worse for wear, as their breeding plumage will be worn, but they will still be striking to see. The warbler clan might be somewhat harder to identify, but it can be done with a good birding guide, if you’re not used to seeing them in non-breeding clothing.
The Black Bird Family
Grackles and other blackbirds are less shy at this stage, as many of their youngsters are out of the nest and they aren’t being run ragged providing for them. The fledglings are out foraging for themselves, yet begging if they have the chance. Many of them aren’t ignore their pleas for assistance, because they really no longer need the help or the excuse.
Northern Flickers are back on the ground in the park, as they only have to put up with me instead of other foot traffic. This lovely yellow-shafted is the only flicker here and you can see those beautiful yellow shafts in this click. There are also red-shafted, the widespread western form, and the gilded, which are in the area of Baja California and the surroundings, much less common.
There are still nestling Scissor-tailed Flycatcher stragglers, but most have fledged. This Flycatcher is our state bird, so people are proud of this beauty, which has a very long tail and intricate and rare courtship rituals. There are other flycatchers in the area, as well as the Eastern and Western Kingbirds that are related. Once you have seen the beauty of a member of the flycatcher family, they will be indelibly marked in your mind’s eye for a long time to come.
Green Heron has been a little more forgiving this year, and I am beginning to wonder if we might just have a nest in the area of the Southern Cove, as neither bird leaves it for long. I will continue to keep my eyes peeled, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. They can be hard to spot, and since this is a year of unusual activity, anything can happen on Boomer Lake.
I finally caught an immature Northern Mockingbird where I least expected it. That’s why it is so important to look at every movement out there that you spot, for it could be the bird that you most want to see. See the spots on the chest? That denotes a young one. As a matter of fact, here is a young American Robin, too. They have the same sort of spots, but no relation. The robin is in the thrush family, and the mockingbird is a mimic, like the Brown Thrasher.
Great Blue Heron
I always save the best for last, and it is Great Blue Heron, which I simply adore. The grace, the silence, and the beauty of this bird appeal to me so much. There are still a few things that we need to learn about them, but they are only an open book to some degree. Here’s a poser for you. My friend, Jeannie, was in MO at a family reunion last weekend, and she spotted a great blue on the ground, deceased. A man saw the bird killed by electrocution. He tried to land on the high wires, which is totally out of character. I believe that he was disoriented due to dehydration and thought that he was landing in a tree. Sadly, I was unable to inspect the body to conduct a necropsy, so I can only surmise this.
Water is the Giver of Life
So please remember to keep water out for the birds. Water is actually more important than food, as you know how you feel if you’re getting dehydrated. Good thing that you haven’t the power to land in the high wires.
Until we met again next week, keep your eyes on the ground ad your head in the clouds. Happy birding. As always, let me know about unusual things that you see, and as you now, I will do the same.