Sunday, April 30, 2017

Upcoming trip: Arapaho NWR

We will head to Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge near Walden, Colorado, this Saturday, May 6. Meet at 8:00 am at Coal Creek Coffee downtown to caffeinate and carpool. The drive to Walden is about one and a half hours via Hwy 230 to Walden CO with stops along the way at Sodergreen Lake west of Laramie and Walden Reservoir in Colorado. Vicki Henry (307-760-9518) will be leading the trip; call if you have questions, and have her number on hand in case you get separated from the caravan.

We will look for shorebirds and waterfowl in breeding plumage, raptors and grassland birds. We may get lucky and see the Western Grebes in courtship display running across the water at Walden Reservoir. At the refuge, there is a hiking/interpretive trail through wetlands where we should see swallows, wrens, warblers, and perhaps a moose. Be sure to bring plenty of snacks and water since this is a lengthy trip. It is possible to eat lunch in Walden after the field trip. We should return to Laramie by 2 pm, but participants in their own vehicles are welcome to leave at any time.

Illinois River at Arapaho NWR

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Upcoming trip: Hutton Lake NWR for pre-K kids

Laramie Audubon is partnering with Little Laramie Hikers to take a special trip to Hutton Lake NWR, tailored to pre-K kids--but all kids and their caregivers are welcome. We will look for waterfowl, check our tree swallow nest boxes, and learn about bird habitats.

We will head to Hutton this Wednesday, April 26. Meet at Bart's Flea Market at 9 am. We will return to Laramie around noon. Laramie Audubon will provide a couple of scopes for looking at wildlife on the lakes. Attendees should bring water, good walking shoes, and appropriate clothing for the weather.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring Exploration Event

Laramie Audubon will have a booth at the Territorial Prison's Spring Exploration event this Saturday, 20 April, from 12 - 4 pm. We will have information on our society, an activity for kids, and will take walks to check the nest boxes we have set up around the Territorial Prison property.

There will be a lot of family-friendly booths from many conservation- and science-related groups around Laramie. Admission is free! Here is more info on the event as a whole.

Remember that we also have a field trip to birding hotspots in town Saturday morning (details here), plus we will clean up our section of the Greenbelt. We will be done with the trip in time to enjoy the Spring Exploration event or the Laramie March for Science!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Laramie Bird Notes -- 4/12 - 4/19


Yellow-rumped Warblers (both subspecies and lots of intergrades) are all over right now. Additionally, several Orange-crowned Warblers and a snazzy American Redstart were seen around town today. The warblers seem to be preferentially foraging in deciduous trees and shrubs right now, especially ones that are flowering or budding. The tree area and the Greenbelt have been especially good lately, while Greenhill Cemetery has been relatively birdless.

Waterfowl migration is still underway and there are plenty of birds on the lakes, but new arrivals are likely done for the most part this year. Nonetheless, a Cackling Goose was seen this past week. Furthermore, other waterbirds are just starting to show up. Highlights on the plains lakes this past week include Black-necked Stilt, Semipalmated Plover, Marbled Godwit, American Avocet, White-faced Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret, Bonaparte's Gull, Western Grebe, and Common Loon.

While checking the plains lakes, be sure to keep an eye to the sky, as swallow diversity also picked up this week, with Barn, Bank, and Northern Rough-winged joining Tree Swallows this week. Violet-green and Cliff Swallows should be right around the corner! American Pipits were also seen on the plains this week.

Sparrows are just starting to make a push into the area, with Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and Lincoln's Sparrow seen recently. An unusual find was a Harris's Sparrow along the Greenbelt. Over the next month or so, checking the Greenbelt and other areas with lots of low-lying vegetation around town could produce this species, which shows up regularly along the Front Range in migration. Why shouldn't they come through Laramie?

The first report of a Hermit Thrush in the area came from a residential area on the east side of town. This species should be picking up quite a bit soon, though perhaps they will skip town as some other songbirds have this year and head straight for the mountains!

Two interesting raptor sightings came this past week from the Greenbelt. The first Osprey of the season was seen flying over the river and a juvenile Northern Goshawk was perched in a cottonwood on the north end of the Greenbelt. Keep a look out for Broad-winged Hawks in the coming weeks!

In non-bird news, a massive movement of Painted Lady butterflies into the valley happened this past week, and they are now quite abundant around town. A few whites (Pieris spp.) have also been seen, though I haven't managed to get good enough looks to identify them to species. Wandering Garter Snakes have emerged from their winter hibernacula as well!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Upcoming talk: Melissa Hill with live raptors

Being a wild animal isn't easy, even if you are one of the top predators in North America. How can birds like hawks, vultures, falcons, and owls survive in an ever-changing world? Melissa Hill of the Draper Museum Raptor Experience will teach us about the phenomenal adaptations of these incredible animals, including amazing eyesight, hovering capabilities, camouflage, and the ability to soar for hours without flapping, just to name a few. Four live birds will accompany the program, bringing with them a greater appreciation for their species and their abilities.

Join us Wednesday, April 26, for this special live raptor program. We will meet in the Berry Center auditorium. Parking adjacent to the building is free after 5 pm. Bird chat and refreshments begin at 6:40 pm, and the talk will begin at 7:10 pm.

Melissa Hill is the Live Raptor Program Manager for the Draper Museum Raptor Experience at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. She has a BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and Management from the University of Wyoming and has been working with raptors since 1997 when she began volunteering with Laramie Raptor Refuge. Hill has worked with four different raptor education programs and more than 70 raptors in her career, teaching thousands of children and adults about the important role that birds of prey, and every species, play in our world.

Click the image below to download the poster.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Nest monitoring at Hutton - Volunteers needed

Laramie Audubon will be monitoring Tree Swallow nest boxes at Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge this summer, and we are looking for volunteers to help! We'll be monitoring from mid-May to early July.

If this sounds like fun and you want to learn more, please join us for an info session Thursday, April 27. We will meet in room 217 of the Berry Center at 6 pm.

Contact Lindsey Sanders with any questions.

Click the image below to download the flyer.

Upcoming trip: Laramie hotspots

Join us on a journey through the best birding spots within Laramie this Saturday, April 22. We'll look for migrating songbirds, especially warblers and sparrows. We usually visit Greenhill Cemetery, Labonte Park, and the Greenbelt. After birding, we will clean up our section of the Greenbelt.

We will meet at 8 am at Coal Creek Coffee downtown to carpool. Bring binoculars and field guides, dress for the weather, and bring water and snacks. This is a great trip for beginning birders and families.

Myrtle x Audubon's Warbler Hybrid

Friday, April 14, 2017

Volunteers needed for Mountain Plover and Sharp-tailed Grouse research

If you're interested in volunteering on avian research in Wyoming this spring/summer, check out these two opportunities through the University of Wyoming:

Volunteer Opportunity--Mountain Plover
Researchers at the University of Wyoming are looking for volunteers to help re-sight banded Mountain Plovers in Thunder Basin National Grassland. Volunteers will get a tour of field sites with a visit to an active nest (and a hatching event if the timing is right!) and potentially a banding demonstration, along with an overview of the ecology of Thunder Basin. Songbird and raptor diversity in the area is high (check out eBird sightings!), and both burrowing owls and swift foxes were regular sightings on colonies last year, so there are also lots of great opportunities for wildlife photography. Click the image below to download the flyer. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Courtney Duchardt for more details:

Volunteer Opportunity--Columbia Sharp-tailed Grouse
Researchers at the University of Wyoming are looking volunteers to help identify locations of new leks in the Baggs area this spring (April - May). The ideal search time is between twilight and an hour after sunrise, so volunteers would need to stay at field housing provided outside of Baggs. Volunteers who can commit to 3-4 days are preferred, especially if you are also interested in helping with grouse trapping efforts. In general, volunteers should be responsible and preferably have some field experience. You will also need to provide your own transportation to Baggs and while lek searching, preferably in a truck and/or an ATV as the roads can be rough. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Aaron Pratt for more details:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Laramie Bird Notes -- 4/1 - 4/11

Apologies for not posting last week. I was buried in reading/writing for my qualifying exams with little time for anything else!

Spring migration is really hopping right now -- it seems like new arrivals are a daily occurrence. Where to start...

Shorebird migration is just getting started, with Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Wilson's Snipe being reported recently. Other species should be showing up soon, including the fan favorite Mountain Plover, so keep your eyes peeled. The plains lakes and Old Laramie River Road north of town are great places to look for shorebirds. There is also a small pond right near the intersection of 287 N and Highway 34 that can be quite good.

In other waterbird news, Wood Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, Franklin's Gull, White-faced Ibis, Eared Grebe, Horned Grebe, and Pied-billed Grebe have all moved into the area.

Passerine migration is really starting to pick up across all habitat types. Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Mountain Bluebirds have just started to move into the mountains. Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Say's Phoebes, Loggerhead Shrikes, and McCown's Longspurs are all making their way back to the plains. Mourning Doves have been seen around town and the first Yellow-rumped Warblers of the season should be here any day now!

Finally, just yesterday the first Swainson's Hawks of the spring were spotted in several locations around town!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Conservation Expo - April 15

Come down to the Albany County Fairgrounds this Saturday, April 15, to learn about your local conservation agencies, educators, and businesses! The Conservation Expo is hosted annually by the Laramie Rivers Conservation District. The event will run 9 am - 3 pm at the Activities Building on the fairgrounds.  Laramie Audubon will have a booth--hope to see you there.

More info about the Expo, including a partial list of agencies who will attend, is here. The Facebook event page is here.

Bonus photo of Hutton Lake. Conservation is why we have great public land like this!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Trip report: Hutton Lake NWR, 08 April

Today, nineteen Auduboners headed out to Hutton Lake NWR. Fortunately, the wind was light early in the trip, so we had easy viewing of waterfowl on Rush and Hogue Lakes. Ducks and coots are at Hutton Lake NWR in great abundance. We had 12 duck species, but I wouldn't be surprised if we missed some, as the lighting was poor and the wind was ferocious by the time we scanned Hutton. We also found Tree Swallows, recently returned to the area and starting to stake their claim to the nest boxes located around the refuge. We were also treated to both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Marsh Wrens chasing each other through the rushes, and both Golden and Bald Eagles.

You can view our complete list of species here. If you were on the trip and want to be on the eBird checklist, shoot me an email.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Upcoming trip: Hutton Lake NWR

We will bird Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge this Saturday, April 8. The refuge is one of the best places to bird this time of year--we should see ducks, shorebirds, grebes, raptors, and recently arrived songbirds. Migration is in full swing, so we could luck into a rarity!

We will meet at Coal Creek Coffee at 8 am to preemptively caffeinate and carpool. Please bring binoculars, a spotting scope if you have one, field guides, and snacks and drinks. Be prepared for windy conditions. Our trips to Hutton usually last until noon, but anyone is free to leave early if they bring their own vehicle or coordinate with carpool buddies.