Date: 2/1/18 6:41 am
From: Sharon Kay <>
Subject: [cobirds] Re: Fort Collins Miscellany (Larimer)
It was great to meet you yesterday. I had no idea I was with such a
knowledgeable birder although I was picking up clues. Great pic and thanks
for showing me the snail. I appreciate your help with the bird very much.
-Sharon Kay

On Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 8:57:12 PM UTC-7, Dave Leatherman wrote:
> Today I visited a new area of Fort Collins at the invitation of a friend
> who said he was "seeing interesting ducks" at his neighborhood pond. The
> pond is called "Willow Springs", I guess. I can't find it named on any
> map. The pond is sw of the intersection of Battlecreek Drive and S.
> Timberline Road in southeastern Fort Collins. Waterfowl present today on
> this totally ice free pond were Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks, Mallards,
> Cackling Geese and Canada Geese.
> While trying to figure out where the pond was and how to access it from
> inside the nearby condo maze, I saw some interesting things. A flock of
> approximately 15 Red Crossbills (sounded like Type 2s) was coming down to a
> small drainage to drink. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was exploring roofs and
> gutters. At one juncture he got what looks like a winged carpenter ant but
> it might be a darkened European Paper Wasp cadaver pulled from its cell in
> a roof corner comb. Tough to tell dead insects in the beak of a bird 15
> feet away.
> A Downy Woodpecker was percussing various objects. Most notably he
> checked out adventitious root knots protruding above the grass at the base
> of a cottonwood (not sure what would be in these) and goldenrod gall fly
> galls (see below).
> (1) Goldenrod plant with three galls (left), (2) opened gall showing two
> fly larvae (*Eurosta solidaginis*) which cause these swellings (middle)
> and (3) downy woodpecker (right) going after goldenrod gall fly maggots
> (gall is right in front of its chest).
> The wonderful red Fox Sparrow first found at the Northern Colorado
> Environmental Learning Center by Andy Bankert continues. Yesterday and
> today it was in the exact site where first reported (southeast of the
> intersection of the Wilcox and Alden Trails a few tenths of a mile south of
> the east end of the suspension bridge). I watched the bird at length both
> yesterday and today and found its behavior most interesting. Whatever it
> is after is down in the leaf litter. This species is a well-known
> doublefoot scratcher, similar to towhees and certain other sparrows,
> including the juncos it hangs with. What I had never seen before was
> scratching with a twist. A full twist, that is. Its normal posture is
> head-down and its scratching is modest. But every once in a while, it
> raises its head, stands on it clawtip toes, and does a rapid 360-degree
> spin. Ice skaters at the upcoming Olympics would receive high marks if
> they could bust such a move. Presumably this flips particularly thick or
> matted litter. In an attempt to discern what the red sparrow and juncos
> were getting, several times a minute, from said leaf litter, I got down on
> my knees, scrunched my trifocals so as to use the reader layer at the
> bottom to best advantage and scratched back leaves with my hands. Over a
> period of 20 minutes and exposing an area of approximately one square
> meter, I found exactly ZERO insects, one snail barely a mm across, lots of
> deer droppings, and some seeds of an unidentified plant that might be the
> answer to the puzzle. Not exactly the cornucopia I was expecting. Once
> again I marvel at the survival skills of birds, once again I walked away
> stumped. But that gorgeous sparrow was worth the effort. If you are
> looking for it, approach the described area QUIETLY AND SLOWLY. This bird
> has been pursued by dozens of birders, many of them loud and impatient,
> playing tapes, etc. It is VERY WARY, very difficult to see. Find the
> junco flock, stay back and just watch all the scratchers. It is usually
> the farthest one away. When approached or warned of something by nervous
> juncos, it usually goes up a short ways into the boxelder trees. Patience
> usually is rewarded by it returning to the leaf litter but sometimes this
> takes 15-30 minutes.
> I have looked for the Harris's Hawk out off Prospect Road near the Welcome
> Center at I-25 yesterday and today and not seen it (which means NOTHING
> with that bird). It works a huge area, is quite active, never seems to sit
> in the same place for very long or two days in a row.
> Dave Leatherman
> Fort Collins

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