Birds up close at Rio Grande Nature Center 9/11

Melissa and I went on the Saturday morning bird walk at the Nature Center hoping to see some birds close up at the banding station. Some early morning ballooners just added to the scenery.

Early morning over the Candelaria wetlands

These balloons look much larger in person

At one point, the sound of a balloon firing startled us just before we were engulfed in shadows.

Seriously, this balloon looks about 75% smaller in this picture.

But on to the birds!

Snowy egret through the scope

Birds up close!

1st year female Townsend's Warbler

Steve Cox, the lead bander, brought a number of birds out to show the group before letting them go. He let folks on the walk actually let the birds go. In addition to letting us take pictures and see birds close up, he explained about their migration, how to identify them, and other nuggets of information. For example, we learned that House Finches, native to the southwestern U.S. were released in the northeast due to passage of the Migratory Bird Act which made it illegal to possess. I thought that someone just let them go for fun or a few escaped and started a breeding population.

Western Wood-Pewee. This guy's face is great.

Melissa got to let the Vesper Sparrow go after Steve made sure we could identify it. Sparrows can be confusing, but they are intricately patterned and beautiful. Vesper Sparrows out of the “streaky” species are one of the easier ones to identify, I think.

Vesper Sparrow. Notice the white outer tail feathers, the eye-ring, and a bit of chestnut on the shoulders

Steve Cox hands the Vesper Sparrow to Mel

Melissa gets ready to let the Vesper Sparrow go!'s off...not yet. The sparrow enoyed a quiet moment in Mel's hand.

This was the only bird that paused for a bit before flying off. It just felt calm in Melissa’s hand, I guess!

Steve showed us Townsend’s Warbler, Western Wood-Pewee, Vesper Sparrow, House Finch, House Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Bewick’s Wren.

This House Wren is snug in the hand

A bit more dignified pose for the House Wren

This Orange-crowned Warbler looks like the Rocky Mountain subspecies to me with the gray head contrasting with the breast and back. Maybe?

This Orange-crowned Warbler's orange crown is hard to see. Steve Cox tried to ruffle the head feathers a bit, but it just gave the bird bad hair.

This Bewick's Wren loudly protested its handling and made a good show of being annoyed.

One of these days, I’ll make it to the Nature Center at 6:15 a.m. to help with the banding. When I do, I’ll post more close-up shots of birds.

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