Morning Birding at Hallam Lake Species List
Tuesday, January 5, 2021 8:00AM - 11AM
Weather: Light snow
Location: Hallam Lake
Chickadees were the most abundant and active birds on this cloudy morning with light snowfall at times, some coming very close to the group for excellent views of their field marks. At least two dippers were taking advantage of foraging opportunities from the edges of pond ice, where these areas provide seasonal perches from which to dive and swim as they feed. Tiny fish seemed to be the dipper's main prey this morning. Other highlights included a flock of about 5 or 6 common grackles that we first saw and heard from a distance. We walked closer to discern whether they were red-winged blackbirds, and when the birds descended into a clump of willows, we were able to see their field marks in great light: long tail, large bill, sloping forehead, and yellow iris, as well as their distinctive calls. A spotted towhee and two song sparrows were also sheltering in the same willows. From the boardwalk that goes to the far viewing platform, we saw a snipe in the new beaver wetlands, an exciting new transitional habitat area. Today's mini-lesson focused on the value of the review process of eBird and the rich learning that comes from mistakes in bird ID. Thanks to photos taken by one of our birding participants this past fall, a Colorado eBird reviewer was able to catch an error made by myself during an ACES outing to North star Nature Preserve when I mistook a juvenile Cooper's hawk for a merlin. In the field, we had observed at a distance, but upon checking the photos carefully with the reviewer's input, the Cooper's hawk's field marks were clear: a tawny hood; long, banded tail; and vertical streaks on the breast that peter out lower on the belly. We also reflected on a current article about how eBird has changed birding forever, an insightful piece worth reading. Join us for our next scheduled outing on February 2nd!
~ Rebecca Weiss, ACES Bird Guide
Photo by Mark Fuller