Friday, February 13, 2009

Daylight Owling in Weld and Larimer Counties

February 12, 2009

Richard Stevens:

I met up with Stan Roth at the McDonald's along Hwy 14 & I25 in Fort Collins and we headed east. Winds were 10-15 mph; temperatures never rose above the low 40s.

Our target birds were owls today. We found a Northern Saw-whet Owl and 2 Long-eared Owls in Weld County then turned back west.

Our luck in Larimer County was just as good.

We found 11-13 Long-eared Owls, 2-4 Short-eared Owls, and 5 Great Horned Owls while visiting the three sections of the Wellington Wildlife Area.

Long-eared Owl numbers were 2 additional at the Schware Unit if you count dead owls. We suspected that Great Horned Owls were feeding on the Long-eared Owls as we only found feathers. We also observed one Eurasian collared-Dove at this unit.

A rancher saw us walking along the side of the road and stopped to see what was up. He mentioned a strange looking finch and so we following him back to his home. The "strange finch" was a Common Redpoll that he first noticed on 2/7!

I asked about sparrows other than American Tree Sparrows or House Sparrows (I know not a sparrow) and he did not appear to have seen any uncommon ones. However he knew that his neighbor had a "strange sparrow" coming to his feeders. A juvenile Harris's Sparrow was coming to his neighbor's feeders when we pulled up to the ranch!

Stan had to head back to Boulder but I had several hours before heading to the Fort Collins Audubon Society's meeting, so I ended my birding day back at Wellington WLA. Again I ran into a rancher and asked about Barn Owls. He knew where one was and kindly took me over to see it. Not bad, a five owl day (though not in the same county, my friends say I am never satisfied).

After a great lecture on Owls of Boulder County by Steve Jones, I was going to head up to Cameron Pass and Jackson County to search for Boreal Owls. When I came out of the building, it was snowing like crazy. Better judgment sent me back to Denver; Jackson County will have to wait until next week.

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