I own no land, instead I have wheelestate. I’ve been a full time RVer since 1997. Working summers as a Park Ranger takes me to many beautiful places and playing during the winter takes me to many more. This blog is simply the story of my life's adventures.


Thank you for stopping by. Just to let you know, I'm still blogging but have moved to Geogypsytraveler. Hope you'll follow my adventures. Just click here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

MWT – Two lifers this week

OK, so I don’t Really consider myself a birder. I do like to watch and try to identify them. Even take a photo when able. (Birds are usually much faster and flightier than I.) I don’t count the birds. But I have a treasured old field guide which I’ve marked in for years.

01 Red-breasted Nuthatch on feeder Yarnell AZ - Copy

I’ve been seeing this little bird flit in and out, so fast it’s very difficult to get a clear look let alone a photo (sorry this one’s not good).

02 White-crowned sparrows on water bowl Yarnell AZ (1024x458)

At first I thought it was a tiny White-crowned sparrow because of the black eye line. But it’s much smaller, with a buff colored belly and blue-gray upperparts.

02 Red-breasted-Nuthatch-cb1270502676 range map

Central Arizona seems to be at the edge of its winter/summer range. According to National Geographic the red-breasted nuthatch is “common to abundant. Breeding: northern and subalpine conifers, particularly spruces and firs. Occasionally breeds south of mapped breeding range, usually in conifer plantations or residential neighborhoods with conifers. Migration: irruptive; often moving in 2- to 3-year cycles but variable. Northernmost migrate annually; southernmost are generally resident.”

03 red-breasted-nuthatch_16814_435x580 illus by H Douglas Pratt 

Illustration by H Douglas Pratt

The local plants are oaks and manzanita, not too many conifers. Maybe I’m just being more observant this year, but I don’t remember ever seeing this little sweetie before. Sure hope it returns to I can try for more photos.

05 Female Williamson's Sapsucker Yarnell AZ

Then Sunday morning a mid-sized bird swooped onto the top of the phone pole. I zoomed in to see it pecking at the wood. Appears to be a female Williamson’s sapsucker. She sat with her back to me but later flew off showing the soft yellow belly.

06 male & female Williamson's Sapsucker

According to wikipedia: “The female is completely different in appearance: mainly black, with a pale yellow breast, a brownish head with black streaking and fine barring on the back, breast and sides. Originally, the female was considered to be a different species and named the Black-breasted Woodpecker by Cassin.”

07 Williamson's sapsucker range map

They are permanent residents in some parts of their range and migrating birds form small flocks traveling as far south as central Mexico. Yet again central Arizona is at the edge of their winter range.

08 Female Williamson's Sapsucker Yarnell AZ

The species took its common name from Lieutenant Robert Stockton Williamson, who led a survey expedition to identify the best route west for a railway to the Pacific Ocean and collected the first male of the species.

So now I’m researching what it takes to ebird. I’m not really good at numbers…but if I start keeping track, these are two lifers.


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Katney said...

I always find that birds and critters are much more difficult to photograph than wildflowers. Though chipmunks and marmots often like to pose, few birds are so accomodating. I did catch a hummingbird very nicely while at daughter's, though.

Arija said...

Isn't it a little thrill when you finally find it in a book and can positively identify a bird? We would all love to get shots like the pros. but what is important is that you get a shot just good enough for identification.

Anonymous said...

I can confirm it's a red breasted nuthatch - we have them up at the cottage along with their slightly bigger cousins, the white breasted nuthatch. I'm sure this little guy will like his winter much better than the ones we have up north, what with the snow and cold...

- Jazz

Martha Z said...

I'm not much of a birder, either. I never gave it much thought until I move to Northern California. Now I take pictures and sit at my computer with the guides trying to match the photo on my screen to the one in the book or on the internet. Some times I'm sure of my ID, sometimes not but I still enjoy.

Diane said...

I struggle to take photos of birds with no telescopic lens. Your photos are good to me. Diane

Anonymous said...

I just love nuthatches! Thus the reason it was my trail name on the Appalachian Trail this year. They are such magical little birds, I could just watch them for hours!

Ruth said...

You are a birder now :-)
I didn't know a house sparrow from a house finch 4 years ago and now I love birding.

Karen said...

I'm not an avid birder, but I enjoy spotting them and watching their antics. The woodpeckers are interesting.

Anonymous said...

That sapsucker is amazing. Great shots!

zablon said...

birds fascinate me, but am not an avid bird watcher

Firefly the Travel Guy said...

Birds aren't always the easiest things to photograph. I wish I had a camera with one of those loooooong lenses to be able to do so.

Pat said...

"Wood" have recognized the woodpecker, but not the other little guy. Birdwatching, official or not, is fun.

Diane AZ said...

I haven't noticed any nuthatches or sapsuckers but I see those cute white-crowned sparrows in the springtime. I'm not a birder either but I do feel jazzed when I see a bird species for the first time.

Small City Scenes said...

I love to watch birds and to photograph them specially the Raptors. But I don't count them or even jot down where I saw them.. I like to think I can remember everything. LOL!! MB

Dawn Fine said...

HOWDEE Gaelyn,
Great Birds..Congrats on these life birds.
Good luck on eBird....I havent really done much with it but i should.
I know a few bloggers that count birds all the time and submit to ebird. It would be a great way for you to learn more about birds..and knowing you would be a pro in no time..
Happy Birding..and stay warm!

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