Sunday, July 18, 2010

YBCU chicks, White-faced Ibis movements, and some other good stuff.....

The past couple days have been pretty exciting around Blythe....we have managed to find three cuckoo nests! The first two nests were found by Shannon and Tim and the third was found this morning by Lindsey. The nest Shannon found has two eggs in it, the nest Tim found has two chicks in it, and Lindsey's nest has three chicks in it. This morning we went out and banded the three chicks in the nest that Lindsey found. Below are some pictures of the chicks. They were all born about a day apart and grow very quickly! It takes about 13 days from the day the chick hatches till it looks like an adult cuckoo!

Here is the nest Lindsey found; you can see one of the chicks peeking over the side of the nest on the right side.
This chick is 4 days old.

This chick is 5 days old...some of its feathers have pinned out!

Here is another look at the 4 day old.

Here is the 5 day old...lots of rufous and brown feathers pinned out and a nice shiny gold band!

On another note, over the past few weeks there have movements of huge numbers of White-faced Ibis and Cattle Egrets here in the Southwest. Some agricultural fields I have driven by have been pakced full of literally hundreds of White-faced Ibis and/or Cattle Egret. On morning while I was doing Cuckoo surveys, there were flocks of ibis constantly flying overhead heading to a nearby field to eat for the day. I tried to count each flock that went past and in about 30 minutes I had counted 466 individual White-faced Ibis. They were in flocks ranging from 2 birds to over 80! I am assuming these birds are slowly making their way southward after just recently finishing up breeding in the interior Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Adult White-faced Ibis
Here is a large flock of White-faced Ibis migrating past.

This photo shows a very small portion of how some of the fields around here are....packed full of hundreds of Cattle Egrets and White-faced Ibis.

I also had some free time in the past couple afternoons to go out and try to find some butterflies and was lucky enough to add a few lifers in addition to ones I am very familiar with, but love to see.
American Painted Lady

This species is one that I have been looking forward to seeing for quite a while....the Bordered Patch.
This species, the Golden-headed Sootywing, is hard to find outside of Southwestern Arizona.

Not a butterfly...but this Greater Roadrunner offered me a nice photo oppurtunity this morning. Roadrunners are very common here, but its such a pain to get a decent photo of them, since they hide at the first sign of a human nearby....

Tomorrow I am off to Mexico to do some Cuckoo surveys. We will be showing employees from Pro-Natura how to conduct Cuckoo surveys, so that hopefully they can do their own surveys in the future so that every year there can be a fairly good idea of the population size of the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo. For more information on the Pro-Natura organization, visit their website at this link. My boss Diane said that only 2 of the 15 people coming known english....I knew I should have put more effort into learning Spanish!
For more information and photos from the past few days, including more photos of cuckoo chicks, butterflies, and a Western Kingsnake....visit Anna Fasoli's blog at this link.

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