Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tropical Birds Night--Wednesday, March 26

FREE PROGRAM. All public welcome.

Laramie Audubon Society’s Tropical Birds Night. Come and chase away any lingering winter blues with an evening focused on tropical birds and birding. Sophie Osborn will introduce us to the tropics, tropical diversity, and some iconic tropical bird families. Then several Audubon members will share photos and travel stories from their tropical journeys.

Wednesday, March 26
UW Berry Biodiversity Center, Corner of 10th and Lewis St
6:30pm Bird Chat & Refreshments in lobby
7:00pm Program begins in auditorium

Narrow-billed Tody (Todus angustirostris) by Julie Hart

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sage Grouse Lek Trek, Saturday, March 29, 5:00 a.m.

It's nearly April and the Sage Grouse are strutting their stuff.  Weather permitting and if the roads are passable, Laramie Audubon Society will be heading out to the lek north of town on Saturday morning, March 29.  We will most likely have to walk about a mile in to the lek and a mile back out.  It will be cold in the early morning with a cold wind blowing.  So dress plenty warmly, wear your walking boots and be prepared to carry in your scope.

Meet at 5:00am at the Eppson Senior Center parking lot, Curtis St. & 3rd St.  We will carpool to the grouse display ground at 5:10 SHARP.  Please call Vicki at 307-760-9518 if you plan on attending and for weather/road updates. 

If the road is impassable from snow/mud/rain/pooling, the trip will be rescheduled to Sat., April 5, same time, same place.  Road update will be available on Thursday evening at 8pm (March 27).  Please call to see if the trip has been postponed. 

It is about a 35-minute drive to the lek so gas up ahead of time.  You will probably need 4WD and/or a high clearance vehicle.  Bring snacks, water, hot beverage, spotting scope if you have one, and binoculars.  You can take photos but we will not get any closer to the lek than about 1/4 mile so as not to disturb the mating rituals.

We are usually back in Laramie by 7:30am or 8:00 am, just in time for the Plains Lakes Tour by Libby Megna. 

Please call 307-760-9518 for more information or if you have any questions.

Vicki Henry

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring Migration Under Way

Despite the recent cold weather and snow, spring migration is already under way around Laramie. Some warm weather created open water patches on many of the local lakes and ponds, and ducks have already started filling them. Redhead (Aythya americana) appear to be one of the most abundant ducks arriving back, but many other species are also showing up, including Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), American Wigeon (Anas americana), Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca), and Canvasback (Aythya valisineria), among others.

Redhead - Lake Hattie, Albany Co.

In addition to the returning waterfowl, gulls, dominated by California Gulls (Larus californicus), are also showing up on many of the lakes in the area. Some early songbird migrants are also returning, most notably Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) at many marshes, and Cassin's Finches (Haemorhous cassinii) in the foothills. In addition to new arrivals, many resident species are also showing clear signs of spring, as many can be heard singing loudly across town, setting up territories and attempting to attract mates.

California Gull - Albany Co.
Cassin's Finch - Albany Co.

Get out and enjoy these early migrants, and get ready for the arrival of many more in the coming weeks and months as spring migration continues to march onward.

Note: all photos in this post are © Shawn Billerman

Thursday, March 6, 2014

New family of Passerines

Spotted Wren-Babbler (Elachura formosa)

A unique family of birds containing just one species has been discovered by researchers.

Scientists investigating families within the Passerida group of perching birds identified 10 separate branches in their tree of life.

The analysis also revealed that the spotted wren-babbler sat on its own branch and was not related to either wrens or wren-babblers.

Experts recommend the distinctive bird should now be referred to as Elachura.

Read more at BBC Nature.