Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Laramie Bird Notes -- Week of 3/20/2017

Bird activity continues to increase in the area as migrants keep trickling in!

On the plains, Says' Phoebe, Brewer's Blackbird, Sage Thrasher, Cinnamon and Blue-winged Teal are recent arrivals, and Western Meadowlarks showed up in huge numbers seemingly overnight this week. Indeed, during this past weekend's trip to the Greater Sage-Grouse lek north of town, several meadowlarks serenaded the group as we enjoyed the truly bizarre courtship ritual of 56 grouse.

New migrants in town include a somewhat early Ruby-crowned Kinglet for the Laramie Valley on UW campus. Another early migrant was a Red-naped Sapsucker found in a patch of aspens on the east end of town. Common Grackles joined the Red-winged Blackbird flocks around town as well. While Northern Goshawks can be found in the mountains year-round, a young bird soaring over UW campus this week was a nice surprise. Finally, Turkey Vultures are slowly but surely making their way back, with a few reports coming in this week from around town.

Black Rosy Finch. Photo by Nate Behl.
The mountain bird community continues to increase in diversity. American Robins, Townsend's Solitaire's, and Gray-headed Juncos have all returned to high elevations in the Snowy Range. Cassin's Finches continue to increase in number as well and can be heard singing relentlessly from tree tops. An American Goldfinch and a Mountain Bluebird at ~11,000 ft in the Snowies were somewhat odd sightings for the time of year. American Three-toed Woodpeckers have started drumming in spruce forests where they seem to be moderately common and taking advantage of the extensive bark beetle outbreak. Rosy-finches put in a good show this past week, with a handful of Brown-cappeds and Gray-crowneds seen at feeders around Centennial. A flock of 50 rosy finches on an exposed, south-facing slope higher up in the Snowies had all three species, including a gorgeous male Black Rosy Finch!

American Three-toed Woodpecker. Photo by Cody Porter.

In non-bird news, Tiger Salamander migration has picked up around La Bonte park. Be on the lookout for moving salamanders on rainy nights for the rest of the spring! Also, a pasque flower was found in bloom in the Snowies!

Blooming pasque flower. Photo by Cody Porter.

Tiger Salamander. Photo by Cody Porter.

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