ACES Birding By Habitat: Crystal River Valley Species List | July 3, 2019
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Location: Crystal River Valley
Black-throated Gray Warbler
This field trip had many highlights, including the wonderful group of participants and the special locations and habitats we visited. Overall, our experience was characterized by lots of practice with ear-birding or identifying bird sounds. At this point in the summer, birds are busy with breeding activities and observing them can be tricky as they go about their business among foliage. We did see a few instances of adults feeding fledglings, which can be easy to spot as the birds make contact calls and move about in little family groups.
We began at a ranch south of Carbondale where we had excellent opportunities to observe a roosting turkey vulture at close range, Say's phoebes, hummingbirds, kingbirds, swallows, and meadowlarks. The ranch compound was an oasis of cottonwood and conifer trees with a varied understory of boxelder, vine-covered shrubs, and gardens surrounded by grassy fields and pinyon-juniper woodland. Another private property further up the Crystal River Valley gave us the opportunity to walk a loop trail through prime pinyon-juniper woodland with sparse understory, where we found our main target birds: black-throated gray warbler, Virginia's warbler, and plumbeous vireo. We had an excellent auditory study of the two warblers when both sang alternately at close range. In the Redstone Campground, we peeked at a female broad-tailed hummingbird on her nest. Up Coal Creek Road, we stopped to see white-throated swifts at the sandstone cliffs and we finished up the trip with an olive-sided flycatcher. The main take-away from this field trip was appreciating and enjoying the somewhat 'strenuous' ear birding that we did with so many birds darting out of sight and staying hidden in foliage. All of us came away with new/improved skills in this important facet of birding in the field. Join us on August 15th for the last Birding By Habitat series field trip with Mark and Rebecca when we will spend the day birding at Capitol Creek Ranch.
~ Rebecca Weiss, ACES Bird Guide
Photo by Jeff Finesilver