Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Denver and Arapahoe County Birding Today

February 15, 2017

Richard Stevens:

Rebecca Kosten and I went out this morning in search of several Denver County birds.  Temperatures reached 65 degrees under partly sunny skies; winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 13 mph.

Fortune shined on us, it took less than 20 minutes to relocate one of the Eastern Screech-Owls found by Doug Kibbe on 2/11 at Observatory Park.  Check the older cottonwood trees, the owls are seldom in the evergreen trees.

Washington Park is not far from Observatory Park; so we tried for the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker next.  Another short search found the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in tree # 5, north of Lily Pond.  The tree appears to be its favorite.

A check of the double trunked tree just north of the road and tree #5 found a Sharp-shinned Hawk perched in the branches where the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has also been on several occasions. 

We had hoped for a better photo than the one I posted on the Colorado Birding Society's Photo Library (  The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker stayed quite hidden high in the branches of tree #5.  The proximity of the Sharp-shinned Hawk most likely curtailed movement by the sapsucker.

After dropping Rebecca off, I headed over to Aurora Reservoir to enjoy this beautiful "winter day" with a hike around the lake.

It was not necessary to hike the whole park.  My first stop was the parking area north of the swim beach.  The remaining ice on the lake was here at the swim beach.

Several thousand gulls stood on the ice.  At least two Thayer's Gulls (adult, 1st winter) were among many Ring-billed, two California and a dozen Herring Gulls.

Two interesting gulls caught my attention.  One appeared to be the 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull.  The other looked more like a Glaucous-winged X Herring Gull than a full Glaucous-winged Gull.

It was light tan all over with one spots on its upper parts, blackish bill with flesh colored base to lower mandible and a fine marbled pattern to its breast.

I would expect a Glaucous-winged Gull to be overall the same darkish tan (no white spots on upper parts), full black bill and a more uniform breast.

It was not necessary to scope below the dam for the lingering White-winged Scoter.  The duck was swimming 20 feet off the east side of the parking area at 3:30 pm.

The visit to Aurora Reservoir did not take as long as expected.  I drove over to a friend's ranch in Arapahoe County.  Coal Creek runs through his property. 

With permission, I walked about a mile of Coal Creek.  One Eastern Screech-Owl was found.  Whether its nests here needs to be confirmed on future visits.  No Barn Owls were found on his property this evening.

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