ACES Birding By Habitat Field Trip Species List
Thursday, July 1, 2021 7am-12pm
Weather: Mostly sunny
Location: Basalt Mountain
This trip was an exploration of breeding birds in a variety of montane habitats at the edge of the 2018 Lake Christine Burn on the back of Basalt Mountain. We walked a loop on the Ditch Trail and Mill Creek Trail which took us through open wildflower meadows, riparian areas, aspen forest, conifer forest, and mountain shrublands, all of which exhibited different levels of burn severity from unburned through severely burned. These habitats have gone through three summer seasons of succession as they recover, and the remarkable growth of new vegetation as well as decomposition of dead wood by insects and fungi is reflected in the abundance and diversity of avian life on this landscape. We learned about how certain birds actually seek out post-burn forests and shrublands to benefit from the abundance of foods and relative lack of predators, and it was fun to see many of these birds as we hiked the loop.
Highlights included active nests of red-naped sapsucker (along with active sap wells in a serviceberry shrub), tree swallows, warbling vireos, and western tanagers. The tanagers' open nest allowed us to watch the fuzzy nestlings stretch up and open their beaks whenever a parent arrived with food. Red-naped sapsucker nestlings clambered at the opening of their nesting cavity and gave begging calls non-stop. Other highlights were excellent views of MacGillivray's warblers, clear songs of olive-sided flycatchers and hermit thrushes, a profusion of wildflowers, and sculptural charred snags. We came away with a new appreciation for the resilience of nature, the role of fire in driving speciation and ecosystem health, and the thrill of seeing more than thirty species of birds in this special place. Join us Tuesday for Morning Birding at Hallam Lake!
Red-tailed Hawk (heard only)
Hammond's Flycatcher (heard only)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (heard only)
Hermit Thrush (heard only)
Orange-crowned Warbler (heard only)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (heard only)
Spotted Towhee (heard only)
~ Rebecca Weiss, ACES Bird Guide
Photo by Craig Turpin