Monthly Archives: April 2020

April 30, 2020

This morning my better half and I set out before dawn to walk the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  We headed east through a prairie dog field (where I’d seen a Cooper’s Hawk a week ago).  Though it was still dark, I thought I saw a Cooper’s Hawk fly across the field toward Bear Creek.   We also saw a large nest that we suspected might be big enough for a hawk family.  At the end of the trail, we headed back west on the paved Bear Creek Trail and kept our eyes peeled for a Cooper’s Hawk perched up in a tree.  My better half spotted some movement in the nest we’d suspected might be a hawk nest.  Sure enough, it was a Cooper’s Hawk, and it flew across the trail in front of us and alighted on a tree on the creek side of the paved trail.  Then we heard a second hawk calling.  The first hawk flew a bit east, and joined a second Cooper’s Hawk up in a tree.

At the pool by the beaver dam, we spotted a couple of beavers swimming around.  We were on the pedestrian bridge, being very still and quiet, when one climbed down the beaver dam and swam east in Bear Creek.

We kept walking west, and we spotted the Mallard family along the south bank of Bear Creek. Near the Cooper’s Hawk nest not far from Old Kipling, we spotted another Cooper’s Hawk perched in a tree.

Dawn itself was beautiful, gorgeous reds and oranges and yellows.

A little later, at the pool by the beaver dam, mama Mallard and all thirteen ducklings were swimming around:


Ducklings exploring

An ever-present Red-winged Blackbird:

Red-winged Blackbird

House Wren

After work, my better half and I rode our mountain bikes to Bear Creek Lake park.  At the “Cottontail trail” Great Horned Owl nest, we saw three owlets standing in the nest and mama perched on a limb close by (today we remembered to bring binoculars).    At the owl nest near the pedestrian bridge outside the entrance, we saw mama owl and one owlet standing in the nest.  And at the “Cottontail picnic area” we saw mama owl and what we think were two owlets (no clear shot of a head).

April 29, 2020

This morning as I was jogging in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I heard an owl softly hooting in the stretch between Estes and the first pedestrian bridge heading west from Estes.  I spotted the Great Horned Owl high in a tree and watched it fly off to the west, following the creek.  A minute after that,  I saw an adult raccoon run across the paved trail to follow a small stream that flows into Bear Creek.

Later, when I had my camera with me, I spotted a White-crowned Sparrow, the first one I’ve seen this season:

White-crowned Sparrow

A little while later I spotted several Orange-crowned Warblers in the same group of trees.  Here is one:

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers are everywhere along the banks of Bear Creek.  Today I discerned some females, including this one:

Yellow-rumped Warbler

The Mallard family is intact:

Mallard and thirteen ducklings

At least ten ducklings in a sleep huddle:

Mallard ducklings

After work, my better half I took a dog for a walk in the greenbelt, and we headed straight for the Wadsworth owl nest.  Both owlets had jumped to branches above the nest.  The mother owl was keeping a watch on everything from an ever higher branch.

Owlet one

Owlet two

Great Horned Owl keeping watch

We saw a couple of Canada Goose families.  Here’s one:

Canada Geese

On the pond near Stone House, we saw a pair of Cinnamon Teals, our first sighting:

Cinnamon Teals

Back on the stretch of Bear Creek near where we live, Yellow-rumped Warblers are simply everywhere:

Yellow-rumped Warble (myrtle)

Two female Hooded Mergansers have been frequenting this stretch of Bear Creek.  Here’s one sunning herself:

Hooded Merganser

April 28, 2020

On my jog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt this morning I heard the song of House Wrens join the songs of Black-capped Chickadees, Song Sparrows, American Robins, and Red-winged Blackbirds.  At the Wadsworth nest, two owlets standing up, awaiting a meal from one of their parents.  As I was heading back home on the paved Bear Creek Trail, west of Estes, I spotted a Cooper’s Hawk on a tree just off the trail.  The hawk was maybe fifteen feet off the ground, and didn’t budge when I stopped to admire it.  I moved on, and saw a coyote run across the paved trail and toward the stand of trees between our back yard and the greenbelt.  Immediately after that I watched two adult raccoons cross the paved trail and follow a path along a small stream.  At the pedestrian bridge, I looked for beavers at the dam, but didn’t see any.  As I was heading back toward the house, another coyote ran across the field in front of me, heading toward the same stand of trees that the first one had run toward.  My better half, who was walking the dog at the same time I was jogging, saw two beavers swimming near the beaver dam.

I took an early lunch walk.  I saw several ducklings swimming with an adult male Mallard and several ducklings resting on the bank of Bear Creek with the adult female Mallard.  One by one, all of the swimming ducklings joined their mother.

Something’s up.

Back to nap time.

And just in case you were wondering where the thirteenth duckling was . . .

All thirteen.

Yellow-rumped Warbers still abound:

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)

I saw a pair of Swainson’s Hawks soaring overhead.  Here’s the Cooper’s Hawk tending to her nest and its contents:

Cooper’s Hawk

A female Hooded Merganser taking a break from crawfish hunting:

Hooded Merganser

After work, my better half and I rode our mountain bikes to Bear Creek Lake Park.  On the way, my better half spotted a pair of Common Mergansers in Bear Creek.  The Mallard ducklings were tucked away somewhere.

It was a warm, terrifically windy day.  As we were climbing Mt. Carbon, we saw a Red-tailed Hawk kiting above us.  The wind was whipping up white caps on the reservoir, and the wind ripped up the side of Mt. Carbon toward us.  It felt like my bike helmet was going to fly off.

We veered off the Mt. Carbon Trail to ride the Cottonwood trail.  At the owl nest there, we saw one–maybe two–owlets.   We’d forgotten to bring binoculars.  We looked for the mother but couldn’t spot her.  But then we discovered a trail that ran behind the trees where the nest was.  From that vantage point, we were able to spot the mother owl.  She was sitting in a tree due west of the tree with the nest.

We also saw an owlet at the nest at the Cottontail picnic area.

On the ride back home, we spotted the Common Merganser pair again.  They were sunning themselves on the same log where I’d seen the Hooded Merganser earlier today (see picture above).

Here’s a Black-capped Chickadee in the early evening in our back yard:

Black-capped Chickadee


April 27, 2020

This morning all thirteen ducklings were present and accounted on Bear Creek.  A gang of three adult male Mallards lurked around, occasionally harassing the ducklings.  The adult female would charge the worst offenders.  Here are portraits of two of the ducklings:

Mallard duckling

Mallard duckling

Yellow-rumped Warblers are still continuing at Bear Creek.  They are behaving as flycatchers do:  perched on outer tree branches, they sally forth in circles to nab insects.

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)

In the afternoon I looked in at the Wadsworth owl nest:


The trees have been begun leafing out.  Soon it will be more challenging to pick out the birds.  In the meantime . .  . House Wrens have returned to Bear Creek with their loud, cheerful song:

House Wren

In warbler world, it was Yellow-rumped Warblers and (far fewer) Orange-crowned Warblers:

Yellow-rumped Warbler (myrtle)

Two views of an Orange-crowned Warbler:

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

April 26, 2020

My better half joined me for a jog at dawn in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  Ron the birder was at the Great Horned Owl nest at Wadsworth, so I was able to make the introduction.  Both owlets were standing at the nest.  Ron said they’d been stretching their wings.  We watched the mother owl fly in with a rodent dangling from her beak.

Then Ron said to me, “Here come David and Luke.  He walks him every morning.”  I saw a man walking up with a German Shepherd on a leash and a camera in his hand.  “Which one’s David and which one’s Luke?” I asked.  Ron chuckled.  “Luke’s the dog.”

We greeted David, and then continued jogging.  In the greenbelt behind our house I spotted a white-tailed deer.  As it bounded away, its tail stood straight up, like a white feather duster.

Later in the morning a birder friend and I checked on the Mallard family in Bear Creek.

Mallard and duckling

Three ducklings swimming against the current to join their ten siblings

Yellow-rumped Warblers, both myrtle and Audubon’s, were continuing at Bear Creek:

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Cooper’s Hawk on nest

Not far from the Stone House, we saw a Swainson’s Hawk:

Swainson’s Hawk

In the afternoon, I went to look again at the Great Horned Owls near Wadsworth:

The Wadsworth owls

April 25, 2020

This morning on my jog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I saw a birder named Ron near the Great Horned Owl nest at Wadsworth.  He’d been watching one of the owlets stretching its wings.  The adult female sat at the very top of a tree northwest of the nest.

As I approached the pond near Stone House, a Belted Kingfisher alighted on a tree branch just ten feet from me.  Of course, I carried no camera.  A few steps later, I came across a pair of Canada Geese and three goslings.  Later, on the paved Bear Creek Trail west of Estes, I found what appeared to be part of a nest on the trail.  There were large white and brown feathers mixed in with downy feathers.

After breakfast, my better half and I headed back into the greenbelt with the dog.  Birdsong filled the air. The loudest were the Northern Flickers.  Red-wing Blackbirds were also pretty vocal:

Red-winged Blackbird singing

We heard Song Sparrow and Black-capped Chickadees and Yellow-rumped Warblers.  West of Estes, the Mallard family with all thirteen ducklings were swimming in Bear Creek.  East of Estes, we found the Canada Goose pair and the three goslings.

Canada Geese with goslings

Canada Goose with goslings

Nearby, a Barn Swallow was singing its heart out:

Barn Swallow

A Double-crested Cormorant was sunning itself above the pond near Stone House:

Double-crested Cormorant

Across from another, smaller pond east of the Stone House pond, we saw a Swainson’s Hawk:

Swainson’s Hawk

The female Great Horned Owl was snoozing a few branches above her nest near Wadsworth:

Great Horned Owl

An owlet looking alert in the nest below:


Nearby, a Northern Flicker was excavating its cavity nest:

Northern Flicker expelling wood chips

Finally, two views of the same Yellow-Rumped Warbler:

Yellow-rumped Warbler (myrtle)

Yellow-rumped Warbler (myrtle)

In the early afternoon we rode our mountain bikes to Bear Creek Lake Park.  The weather was beautiful–sunny, in the 60s, and windy.  When we entered at Fox Hollow Golf Course, I saw a hawk flying low along the contours of the golf course.  My first thought was Cooper’s Hawk.  But it didn’t have a long tail.  It pulled up, and the pattern immediately said Swainson’s Hawk.  We watched it gain altitude, and we rode on.

As we were climbing Mt. Carbon, we watched two first-year Red-tailed Hawks kiting.  At one point, just yards in front of us, the wind rushing up terrifically from the reservoir, one of the REd Tails landed in a small tree where a Black-billed Magpie made itself as small and as quiet as possible.  Then the hawk jumped up, and suddenly it was kiting again.  The hawks didn’t have the red tails that adults have, but they had the dark patagial bars.

We veered off the Mt. Carbon loop to ride the Cottonwood Trail.  The trail skirts the reservoir, where we saw an American White Pelican.  Farther down the trail, we got good views of a Great Horned Owl nest, with the adult female perched a few branches higher than the nest, and two owlets peeking at us from the nest.

We saw the adult female–but no owlets–at the nest by the pedestrian bridge outside the entrance to the park.

We saw the adult female and one owlet at the nest at the Cottontail picnic area.

Afterwards, we took the dog for another long walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  East of Estes, we watched a Swainson’s Hawk soar overhead:

Swainson’s Hawk

We also spotted an American Robin with nesting material:

American Robin with nesting material

We watched it hop from limb to limb, and finally end up in a freshly plumped-up nest:

American Robin in nest

We didn’t see any Belted Kingfishers at the big beaver dam, but not far from there–on the south side of the dirt trail running east–we saw an Orange-crowned Warbler:

Orange-crowned Warbler

We saw one owlet peeking at us at the Great Horned Owl nest near Wadsworth:


Its mother was perched, keeping watch, in a nearby tree:

Great Horned Owl

April 24, 2020

On my early lunch walk in the Bear Creek Creek Greenbelt, I stopped at a stand of trees near the southern edge of the greenbelt, close to our home.  It’s home to nesting Black-billed Magpies, Black-capped Chickadees, and European Starlings.  Northern Flickers are almost always present, too, but I haven’t identified one of their nests yet.

Black-capped Chickadee with nesting material

While I was watching this Black-capped Chickadee repeatedly deliver nesting material to its cavity nest (a reverse of the other day, where I watched one excavate a different cavity nest), a Red-tailed Hawk flew overhead:

Red-tailed Hawk

In the afternoon, I walked back through into the greenbelt.  On the way through my neighborhood, a few American Crows made themselves seen:

American Crow

At Bear Creek a female Hooded Merganser was hunting crawfish:

Hooded Merganser

She hauled herself out onto a log to sit in the sun a short while:

Hooded Merganser

The Mallard family was present:

Mallards with ducklings

Female Mallard with ducklings



Yellow-rumped Warblers still noisily line the edges of Bear Creek.  Song Sparrows were out singing in the fields.  And, for the first time, I saw a Cooper’s Hawk sitting in the nest:

Cooper’s Hawk


April 23, 2020

This morning as I was walking out of my neighborhood for an early lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt, I heard the distinctive buzz of a hummingbird–but didn’t see the hummer.

Yellow-rumped Warblers were flitting all around the trees in and around the banks of Bear Creek:

Yellow-rumped Warbler (myrtle)

All thirteen of the ducklings were present and accounted for today.  Here’s the Mallard pair pictured with eleven of them:

Mallards with ducklings

Mallard female with duckling

Late this afternoon, I saw the first Broad-tailed Hummingbird of the season at the feeder on our deck:

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

April 22, 2020

Early this morning as I was jogging along Yale where it borders the Bear Creek Greenbelt, a raccoon crossed the road ahead of me and started walking on the shoulder in the same direction I was heading.  I gave it a wide berth as I passed it; it didn’t seem too concerned.  Near the Great Horned Owl nest near Wadsworth, I heard the owls hooting softly to each other, the first time I’ve heard their pre-dawn calling.  Finally, as I was jogging the paved Bear Creek Trail west of Estes, I spotted a pair of Cooper’s Hawks.  The smaller of the two–probably the male–was perched on a tree to my right, maybe six feet off the ground.  The other one was perched higher in a tree to my left and it was calling quietly to the first one.  She flew across the trail and alighted in a tree nearby the first one.  I moved on.  The place I saw them wasn’t far from the prairie dog field where I’d seen a Cooper’s Hawk yesterday.

During an early lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt, I saw my first ducklings of the season:

Mallards and thirteen ducklings

Although the male appears in this shot, it was mostly the female Mallard that stayed with the ducklings.

April 21, 2020

On an early lunch walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt I found Black-capped Chickadees by their cavity nest:

Black-capped Chickadee

They were busy at work excavating:

Black-capped Chickadee

After work I walked around the east end of the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  I saw over a dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers:

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)

I also saw my first Swainson’s Hawk of the season by the big beaver dam:

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

And, for the first time, I saw more than one owlet at the Great Horned Owl nest:

Great Horned Owl and owlets (back of owlet’s head in foreground)