Date: 5/13/18 6:01 pm From: DAVID A LEATHERMAN <daleatherman...> Subject: [cobirds] Grandview Cemetery (Fort Collins, Larimer) on Mother's Day
I spent several hours at Grandview Cemetery today, Mother's Day, and found it interesting, as usual.
The theme of motherhood was reinforced by finding the first two occupied Broad-tailed Hummingbird nests I've found there this year. This is about two weeks later than early nests have been discovered the last two years. Both nests are refurbished ones used initially last year. The mother Great Horned Owl was off her traditional elm crotch nest letting the two smallish babies dry out a bit after two days of rain. A male House Wren was singing its brains out up and down the ditch from the entry bridge going south, trying to attract a mate to mother its offspring. The female Red-tailed Hawk was busy on her nest in the southeast corner spruce.
A few Red Crossbills (Type 4) were making both their odd call ("quid-quid") and their song from the top of a tall spruce. [I received a photo from friend and birder Louis Hegedus, who lives a few blocks east of the cemetery, showing what look like big-billed Type 2s at his feeder day before yesterday.]
MacGillivray's Warbler played hide and seek from one shrub to another.
At least 5 Western Tanagers filtered thru. The late leafing of local American Elms this spring makes them easier to detect.
Bullock's Oriole (heard only)
In a smallish flock of Spizella sparrows were all three common species: Chipping, Clay-colored and Brewer's.
A "vee" of 15 White Pelicans soared north.
Pine Siskins, absent all winter, appear to be setting up for a nesting cycle in the cemetery.
Perhaps the most unusual "bird" of the day was a DJI Phanton 4 Pro. This is a type of drone flown by pilot Logan Ross of Eastern Carolina University as part of research done in conjunction with University of Northern Colorado ornithology student Braelei Hardt. The aerial photos taken by the drone today will be combined with terrestrial laser scanner images also collected today to assess the habitat of House Wrens. If I understand the study plan correctly, habitats for 7 species of wrens are being quantified by the drone/laser devices (operated by the ECU geographers). Playback of songs from these species will be measured at specified distances from a known nest location at all the laser/drone quantified sites to see how well the vocalizations of each wren carry. In other words, Braelei wants to see if the nature of a particular wren species' song has evolved under the physical influence of the habitat they select for breeding. Does the construct of a Canyon Wren's song "work better" in a canyon habitat than it does in an urban cemetery? I hope this is at least partly right, and if not, my apologies to Braelei.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone in operation at Grandview Cemetery
On a sad ending note, I was informed by good friend and birder Mary France that her husband Tom, another good friend, passed away suddenly, unexpectedly last night. Tom was a great bird photographer. His photographs deserved much wider exposure to the birding community than his humility fostered. Maybe we can do something about that. A few have appeared in "The Hungry Bird" (see the articles on "Ticks" and "Voles/Deermice" in the July 2015 and April 2017 issues, respectively, of "Colorado Birds", for example). My thoughts are with Mary and their two daughters Kathy and Caroline. All of us who knew Tom have heavy hearts. When funeral arrangements are known, I will share them.