Monthly Archives: June 2021

June 29, 2021

The early mornings in the Bear Creek Greenbelt, when the temperature is in the 50s, have been so nice.   Mama Cooper’s Hawk was in her usual spot, waiting for papa to bring in a meal for the family:

Cooper’s Hawk

The nestlings are getting big, though they are difficult to see:

Cooper’s Hawk nestlings

Nearby, the “magic tree,” as it’s affectionately known, was attracting a variety of birds:

Lazuli Bunting

Yellow Warbler

Black-chinned Hummingbird

A little farther to the east we caught a glimpse of this Great Blue Heron in Bear Creek:

Great Blue Heron

June 28, 2021

This morning on our early morning walk with the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt we saw a Mallard and a single duckling in the pond that never freezes (is this the survivor from the nine we saw the other day?):

Mallard and duckling

At lunch I took another walk in the greenbelt.  I walked around the pond at the Stone House.  A male Red-winged Blackbird was fiercely defending its territory.  There was probably a nest nearby.  It would hover, the best it could, just a few feet above my head, urging me to move along.  Then it would land and scold me:

Red-winged Blackbird

I found the Hooded Merganser duckling:

Hooded Merganser

I did not see mama Hooded Merganser anywhere.  Here’s a red-eared slider:

Red-eared slider

West of Estes, I paused to listen to some drumming–slow and loud–coming from inside a tree.  Above, a Cooper’s Hawk was perched, but it soon flew off.  Eventually, a Northern Flicker poked its head out of a hole:

Northern Flicker

Here’s a female Red-winged Blackbird perched above a marshy area.

Red-winged Blackbird (female)

June 27, 2021

This morning as my better half and I were walking the dog in the Bear Creek Greenbelt we came across two friends–armed with binoculars and cameras–who were watching our resident female Cooper’s Hawk tear apart prey, most likely a young Common Grackle.  After a while, she flew to the nest and began feeding her two nestlings.  Here’s one:

Cooper’s Hawk nestling

If you look carefully, you can see both nestlings here:

Cooper’s Hawk nestlings

Nearby a Yellow-breasted Chat was calling.  We also saw a female American Goldfinch and two Lesser Goldfinches.

And then, just as the other day, we saw the male Cooper’s Hawk fly with a stick in its talons.  This time we tracked him down to a cottonwood along the Stone House Trail.  He’s working on a new nest.  Maybe he’s getting a jump on the nest for next year?  For the three summers we’ve been watching, we haven’t seem them re-use a nest.


June 26, 2021

This morning I joined a bird walk led by Joey Kellner at Chatfield State Park.  It was overcast and cool.  We walked upstream of Kingfisher bridge (west) and at the Plum Creek nature area.  One highlight included seeing a pair of nesting Red-eyed Vireos.

Red-eyed Vireo

On the band on the bird’s right leg, a pair of 2s, on one top of each other, is visible.  Joey reached out to Meredith McBurney, who runs the bird banding station at the Audubon Nature Center adjacent to Chatfield.  Here is her response:

This is really interesting…….I’ve banded a grand total of three REVIs [Red-eyed Vireos] at Chatfield in 18 years.  This is definitely not the one from 2009 or 2021.  I can see two numbers (both 2’s) on the band, and they are placed properly to be the bird from 2017 – Band number 2750-92175.  Can’t say for positive, but the likelihood of it being a REVI banded elsewhere and breeding at Chatfield and having those 2 “2s” is pretty slim!  Rob Raker got a shot of a banded REVI with its mate last year (able to get one number – a 5) and I guessed that one was this same bird as well.  He (I sexed it based on its wing length) seems to enjoy being photographed!  And is living a pretty long life!

Here’s another shot of the Red-eyed Vireo.  Although the band is visible, the numbers are illegible . . . underscoring how difficult it is to be close enough to the bird to get a good shot and have the sun cooperate.

Red-eyed Vireo

Another highlight was seeing a juvenile Downy Woodpecker in a nesting cavity:

Downy Woodpecker


For most of the walk, we were within earshot of the calls of Yellow-breasted Chats.  All told, we heard or saw over 50 species of birds, including several Snowy Egrets, and three types of sparrows:  Brewer’s, Vesper, and Lark.In the afternoon my better half and I took the dog for a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  Two Double-crested Cormorants were sunning themselves besides the remains of the beaver dam by the footbridge:

Double-crested Cormorants


We paused to watch a female House Finch gather nesting material:

House Finch

House Finch

Western Tiger Swallowtails are numerous this year.

Western Tiger Swallowtail

June 24, 2021

This morning the skies were dark and the air was warm and humid (for Colorado).  On our early morning walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt we saw a couple of raccoons up in a tree.  Here’s one:


We saw the female Cooper’s Hawk high in a tree, tearing apart prey–a young Mourning Dove, from the looks of it.  She flew to the nest with it. Here’s another glimpse of one of the nestlings:

Cooper’s Hawk nestling (adult to the left)

We saw a male Lazuli Bunting and we heard a Gray Catbird.  We also saw the male Cooper’s Hawk flying with a stick clutched in its talons.

June 23, 2021

After work, I wandered around the Bear Creek Greenbelt for a few hours by myself.  Some birds I saw:

Black-crowned Night Heron

Hooded Merganser with crawfish

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher


And a dragonfly:

Variegated Meadowhawk

June 22, 2021

On an early morning walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt we saw a Cooper’s Hawk in its usual spot:

Cooper’s Hawk

We also saw two Lesser Goldfinches and a pair of Lazuli Buntings.  Here’s the male Lazuli Bunting:

Lazuli Bunting

On an early lunch walk at the pond by the Stone House, I saw two Black-crowned Night Herons, one juvenile and one adult:

Black-crowned Night Heron (juvenile)

Black-crowned Night Heron

I also saw the Hooded Merganser and her duckling, who stayed in the shadows under the trees at the southeast end.  Other creatures at the pond:

Western Painted Turtle

Twelve-spotted skimmer

“Mating wheel” of Variegated Meadowhawks

Across Estes, I caught sight of a Western Kingbird:

Western Kingbird

June 21, 2021

I took off work today and joined a bird walk at Ken-Caryl Ranch led by David Suddjian.  After several days of temps in the 90s, today dawned cool and cloudy.  Excellent for walking and birding, but not ideal for photography.

As usual we saw several deer:

Mule deer

We heard a several Ovenbirds  (teacher! teacher! teacher!) but never spotted one.  The most populous singers were Spotted Towhees and Evening Grosbeaks, though there were also Western Meadowlarks and Black-capped Chickadees.  Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were everywhere, the males putting on impressive diving displays.  We also heard and saw Cordilleran Flycatchers (we sit!).  I worked for several minutes to photograph one in the dark canopy but wasn’t happy with the results.  We also saw a couple of Lazuli Buntings perched at the top of tall trees–but the pictures I took were underwhelming.  Below are the best of the bunch.  One highlight was a Dusky Grouse that took exception to our moving through one section of the trail.

Dusky Flycatcher

Warbling Vireo

Dusky Grouse

At the end of our walk, after noon, the sun started to peek out:

Western Tanager

In the late afternoon my better half and I took the dog for a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  Mama Cooper’s Hawk was sitting on her usual branch, waiting for papa to bring in a meal for the family:

Cooper’s Hawk


We couldn’t spot any of the nestlings in the nest, though a friend let me know two nestlings were visible this morning.  Later in the walk we saw papa Cooper’s Hawk being chased through the woods by Red-winged Blackbirds.At the pond that never freezes we saw mama Mallard with her nine ducklings.

June 20, 2021

Early this morning my better half and I took the dog for a walk in the Bear Creek Greenbelt.  At the pond that never freezes we saw a Mallard with a fresh batch of nine ducklings:

Mallard and ducklings

The male Cooper’s Hawk was perched not far from the nest.  Although the nest is very difficult to see these days because of all the leaves, we saw a couple of balls of white fluff, including one stretching its wings.

Cooper’s Hawk

Later in the morning I walked over to the pond by the Stone House to see if I could find the ducklings–one Hooded Merganser and seven wood Ducks.  I found mama Hooded Merganser and her duckling, but had no luck with the Wood Ducks.

I saw a disreputable-looking Barn Swallow perched above the pond:

Barn Swallow

A juvenile, perhaps?  There was a dapper adult nearby:

Barn Swallow

I thought maybe the dapper adult was there to feed the presumptive juvenile, but the adult had other plans:

Barn Swallows

Not far away a turtle basked in the sun:

Western Painted Turtle

June 18, 2021

Today, on an unexpected day off because of the new Juneteenth holiday, very early in the morning I drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park in hopes of finding one of the White-tailed Ptarmigans that have reported over the past week.

I spent three hours–from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m.–at Medicine Bow Curve, but did not see one.  I did, however, see a few other birds, including these:

White-crowned Sparrow

American Pipit

I also saw three yellow-bellied marmots.  

Yellow-bellied marmot

Yellow-bellied marmot

Yellow-bellied marmots

A bit up the road I saw a pika:


Not far from the Bowen-Baker area, I saw a bull moose, but it was lying down beneath trees and well-camouflaged.