North Star Morning Birding Species List
Tuesday, September 10, 2020 7:30AM - 10:30AM
Weather: Mostly cloudy, cool.
Location: ACES and Pitkin County Open Space
Great Blue Heron
Following a significant early season snowfall and unsettled cold weather, bird activity was high this morning. Patches of sun warmed us as we took in an incredible show of resident and migrating birds as they foraged to make up for energy expended surviving the cold/snow spell. We were able to focus on field marks for many different sparrow species, most of which exhibited various stages of molt between juvenile and non-breeding adult appearances. This was tricky! One particular mystery bird was resolved when we saw a flock with adults mixed in: horned lark. The plumage stage for the immature birds and their vocalizations did not match anything shown in our books and apps, but we had a strong inkling toward horned lark and it was fun when we were able to confirm our ID by the presence of adult birds in their distinctive plumage. Many warblers are still moving through the area, including a Townsend's warbler that we saw near the bridge over the river. Excellent light and great views made this bird a special treat this morning. Perhaps the top highlight of the morning was a merlin spotted in the top of a dead spruce tree where its color patterns blended in perfectly with the grayed, weathered wood. Field marks for this bird were its small size, banded tail with pale terminal edge, a pale eyebrow line, yellow legs and feet, and lots of vertical streaking covering its breast. The merlin is an unusual migrant for our area, and always exciting to see. Join us next Tuesday at Rock Bottom Ranch!
~ Rebecca Weiss, ACES Bird Guide
Photo by Mark Fuller