The Elusive Bell’s Vireo

Bell's Vireo

Bell’s Vireo

Bell’s Vireos have a reputation for sounding like they should be in plain sight but hiding behind the curtain, if you will. At least that has been my experience with those that breed in Illinois, so it was particularly rewarding to get pretty good looks, if not great pictures, of a Bell’s Vireo in Texas the last day of our trip.

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We dispersed early in the morning to bird the grounds of Neal’s Lodges individually before leaving for the Austin airport. I thought I had a better recording of this bird’s song, for all the singing he was doing, but there seems to be interference from road noise and several other birds. Anyway, the Bell’s is the intermittent but emphatic little chattery song, if you can hear it.


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It’s possible one of the other birds singing a bit is a Black-Throated Sparrow. I was delighted to find him and get a few pictures as well. The last time I saw this species was almost two and a half years ago in New Mexico. Hard to believe it’s been that long.

Black-Throated Sparrow

Black-Throated Sparrow

The bird has to be facing you to see the black throat for which it’s named. Otherwise you need to be familiar with its other field marks, like the broad white supercilium.

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There was also a cooperative Clay-Colored Sparrow, but I don’t hear his buzzy song on this recording.

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Clay-Colored Sparrow

Clay-Colored Sparrow 4-30-14-9657 Clay-Colored Sparrow 4-30-14-9685

Indoor birds and I are listening to Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride on the Tuesday Night Opera with Peter Van De Graaff on WFMT. It seems a good night to stay home, close the windows to retain some heat overnight, turn on the oven and roast veggies. The drop in temperature dictates coziness.


New Mexico roundup

Ross's Geese at Bosque del Apache

I finally made it through all the pictures from New Mexico last weekend and most of them are on my flickr page (here or link below).

Abert's Squirrel, Tres Pistolas

They weren’t all birds. We encountered this fascinating Abert’s Squirrel. Check out those ears!

Townsend's Solitaire

The last day I got lucky with this Townsend’s Solitaire sitting up. I didn’t notice the altitude on the trip until I became very aware that I was holding my breath whenever I took pictures, to steady the lens. I think I probably do this at sea level too, but not gasping for breath!

Black Rosy-Finch

A main focus of our trip was two visits to Sandia Peak, where all three subspecies of Rosy-Finches occur in the winter. Our incredible guide, Raymond Van Buskirk, has been banding these birds for seven years, to study the effects of climate change on the species.

Black Rosy-Finch

Here he’s showing off the beautiful color of a bird’s wing feathers.

Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch

There were several Brown Rosy-Finches too, but we only caught a glimpse of a Gray-Capped Rosy-Finch, the third subspecies… thus, no picture this time.

I can never really say goodbye to New Mexico. I’ll be back.

Birdsong in New Mexico

While going through the pictures I found a few songsters, so in keeping with the spirit of this blog, I’m including them here.

Cactus Wren

This Cactus Wren is a beautiful bird, a large-sized wren with striping/bands on its tail that are not visible in this picture, unfortunately.

I’m almost sorry I didn’t take my digital recorder with me to record these birds while they were singing for us, but most of them were called in by MP3 players, which is probably why they sat around long enough for me to take these photographs, as they were making sure we intruders knew it was their territory. There were times when the MP3 players fooled us too.

Juniper Titmouse

It took us a while to find a Juniper Titmouse but we got lucky with this one.

Rufous-Crowned Sparrow

This Rufous-Crowned Sparrow posed for a lot of stunning profile shots which showed off his extraordinary white eye-ring, but for singing, he faced us straight-on.

And last, for now, our friend the Cryssal-Thrasher, who put in his two cents.

Winter birding in New Mexico

I have been to New Mexico several times in my life but never as a birdwatcher. I was thrilled to see the Scrub Jays, which look and sound ever-so-different from the ones I was used to in California’s East Bay area.

Western Scrub Jay

I was fortunate to join the Evanston North Shore Bird Club trip to New Mexico last week for three and a half days in one of my favorite places on earth.

Cryssal Thrasher

The birds were quite cooperative once we found them, like this Cryssal Thrasher sitting up.

There’s much more to write and I have many, many more photos to go through but I will need a few more days to do so. Before I go, a few more photos. Here’s a beautiful Green-Tailed Towhee.

Green-Tailed Towhee

And a Canyon Towhee…

Canyon Towhee

Goodnight for now. I leave you with this winter scene.

New Mexico in the snow