Monday, September 15, 2014

Field trip report: Hereford Ranch

This past Saturday six intrepid Auduboners awoke extra early for a pilgrimage to one of the best migrant traps in southeastern Wyoming: the Hereford Ranch.

True to form, the cottonwoods and willows of the riparian areas at the Ranch were hopping with migrants. The vast majority were Wilson's Warblers, but we did turn up an American Redstart and a Cassin's Vireo in company with Plumbeous Vireos. The Eastern Screech-Owl continues to cooperate--he or she is still occupying the willow cavity near the corral next to the parking lot.

We saw 48 species total--plus several Empidonax flycatchers, likely comprising two species. Below is the link to the eBird checklist and the complete trip list.

Wyoming Hereford Ranch

Species List
Canada Goose
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Swainson's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Eastern Screech-Owl
Red-naped Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood-Pewee
Empidonax sp.
Say's Phoebe
Plumbeous Vireo
Cassin's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Townsend's Solitaire
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Northern Waterthrush
Orange-crowned Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Green-tailed Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Western Tanager
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow
Photos by Libby Megna.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Upcoming field trip: Hereford Ranch

Orange-crowned Warbler, Albany Co, WY. Photo © Shawn Billerman.
Our next field trip is this Saturday, September 13th. Note that we'll be leaving from Night Heron Books at 7 am (one hour earlier than usual) because we are heading to the Hereford Ranch on the east side of Cheyenne. Libby Megna will lead the search for songbird migrants; in particular, we should find good sparrows, vireos, and warblers.

Again, meet downtown at Night Heron Books at 7 am to caffeinate and carpool. We will be back to Laramie by noon--if you can only join us for part of the time, be prepared to drive your own vehicle.

All Laramie Audubon field trips are free and open to the public; families are welcome. Bring water and snacks, binoculars, a spotting scope if you have one, and dress for the worst weather.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ed Scholes at UW this week

Ed Scholes, evolutionary biologist and Curator of Video at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library, will be visiting the University of Wyoming this week. Scholes, with National Geographic photographer Tim Laman, recently finished a project documenting all species in the birds-of-paradise family. Check out the Birds-of-Paradise Project for more info and great video of gorgeous birds.

Scholes will give two talks:

Video analysis, specimen imaging and 3D modeling: New perspectives on courtship displays in a bird-of-paradise
     Friday, Sept. 12, 12:10 pm, Berry Center 138
     Part of the weekly Zoology/Physiology Departmental seminar, co-hosted by Biodiversity Institute

Birds of Paradise: Revealing the World's Most Extraordinary Birds
     Friday, Sept. 12, 7:00 pm, Berry Center 138
     Booksigning to follow
     Hosted by the Biodiversity Institute

Additionally, the Biodiversity Institute will show the National Geographic film "Winged Seduction: Birds of Paradise" on Wednesday, September 10 at 5 pm and on Sunday, September 14 at 2 pm.

All events are free and open to the public. 

Click on the image below to download a poster that you can share with interested parties.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Field trip report: Plains Lakes & Hutton NWR

Yesterday's inaugural field trip of the fall did not disappoint: the birds were great, the weather flat-out exceeded expectations, and the company was convivial. The major avian highlight of the trip was a juvenile Sabine's Gull at Lake Hattie. A juvenile Sanderling in fresh, crisp plumage at Meeboer was another group favorite.

Waterfowl are increasing in number on Hutton and Hoge Lakes. Lake Hattie is still relatively devoid of waterfowl but that will change over the next few weeks--and as evidenced on the trip, rare gull season is in session! Several raptor species were conspicuous, especially the Swainson's Hawks, which are amassing before their southward migration.

We saw 73 species total; below are links to the eBird checklists for each hotspot and the complete trip list.

Blake's Pond
Meeboer Lake
Twin Buttes Reservoir
Lake Hattie Reservoir
Hutton Lake NWR

Species List
Canada Goose
American Wigeon
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Lesser Scaup
Common Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Golden Eagle
Northern Harrier
Bald Eagle
Swainson's Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Virginia Rail
American Coot
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Spotted Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Baird's Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Wilson's Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope
Sabine's Gull
Franklin's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Nighthawk
Northern Flicker
Prairie Falcon
Loggerhead Shrike
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Marsh Wren
American Robin
Sage Thrasher
European Starling
Chestnut-collared Longspur
McCown's Longspur
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Brewer's Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
American Goldfinch
Photos of Auduboners at Lake Hattie by Libby Megna.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Upcoming Field Trip: Hutton and Plains Lakes

Lake Hattie. Photo by Libby Megna.
Join us this Saturday, September 6th as we kick off the fall season with a trip to Hutton Lake NWR and the Plains Lakes. Shawn Billerman will lead us on the search for migrant waterfowl and shorebirds. September 6th is also World Shorebird Day! We'll do our part by submitting data on the shorebirds we observe to eBird.

Meet downtown at Night Heron Books at 8 am to caffeinate and carpool. We expect to be back to Laramie around 1 pm; if you can only join us for part of the time, be prepared to drive your own vehicle.

All Laramie Audubon field trips are free and open to the public; families are welcome. Bring water and snacks, binoculars, a spotting scope if you have one, and dress for the worst weather.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cheyenne Audubon's 40th Anniversary

The Cheyenne-High Plains Audubon Society will be celebrating its 40th anniversary September 26-28. Laramie Auduboners and all other interested persons are invited; mark your calendars and plan to celebrate with our neighboring Audubon Society!

The weekend lineup includes
  • A variety of bird-related talks--including a talk by John Fitzpatrick of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at the Saturday banquet
  • A field trip to the Hereford Ranch with Ted Floyd from the American Birding Association
  • Activities for kids grades K-8
The complete schedule of events is available here along with info on registration fees and location.
Most events require registration by Sept. 17. You can register online or mail in the form found at the previous link.

For more information, please contact Barb Gorges.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch Survey

by Sophie Osborn
Black-capped Rosy-Finch. Photo © Shawn Billerman.

Hello Auduboners!

Please join Laramie Audubon for a day of hiking and bird surveying in the beautiful Snowy Mountains! We will be conducting the Laramie Audubon Society’s annual Brown-capped Rosy-Finch survey on Saturday, July 12, 2014 this year.

The Brown-capped Rosy-Finch is a species of concern because it breeds only in the Snowy Mountains and on mountain peaks in Colorado and northern New Mexico. If the current global warming trend continues, its mountain habitat islands are likely to shrink and to be invaded by other avian species that are currently excluded by the harsh conditions. Documenting how many Brown-capped Rosy-Finches are in the area and where they are feeding and nesting can help us to monitor this population and determine how the birds are faring.

Last year, the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database helped Laramie Audubon develop additional survey routes so we can get a more complete picture of where rosy-finches occur and are nesting in the Snowies. So we have lots of routes to cover! Some of these routes are off-trail and involve rigorous hiking. We hope to GPS our observation points and any nest locations that we find to make our surveys more useful, so if you have a GPS and are willing to use it, please bring it.

Please let Sophie know if you plan to join us on the survey and if you can supply your own GPS unit at

We will meet on July 12, 2014 at 7:30am at the Forest Service Visitor Center, on WY 130, approximately 1-2 miles west of Centennial WY. After an orientation session, we will divide the group into teams and will divide up the survey routes (orientation and route assignments may take as long as an hour).

What to expect:  Be prepared to spend the day hiking and looking for rosy-finches. The birds are difficult to find and are not in predictable locations so considerable hiking may be required. Some of the trails have fairly steep portions and the elevation can be challenging for some people. You may also spend time sitting in certain areas to search for or observe birds. Some survey routes are along established trails; some routes are off-trail and may be challenging.

What to look for: In spring and summer, Brown-capped Rosy-Finches often feed at the edge of snowdrifts, where seeds that were blown onto the snowpack during winter emerge from the melting snow cover. Spring winds also blow insects from lower elevations that settle onto the snow where they can be found by birds that are gathering food for their nestlings. Nests are well hidden in talus and in shallow crevices in rock faces. When seen feeding on bright snow, rosy-finches may appear to be a solid dark color. In better light, their light-pink flanks and rumps are visible and they show a flash of pink in their wings when in flight. 

What to bring:  Binoculars and/or spotting scope, a field guide, a GPS unit if you have one, warm clothes and rain gear, good hiking shoes, lunch and snacks, water, and sunblock. We will provide route maps.