Hawk Nest Monitoring Begins


As many of you know, I volunteer for the Jefferson County Open Space along the Front Range of Colorado. Last year, I worked on a new-to-me program, hawk nest monitoring. The nest I watched last year seems to have been abandoned, so I moved to a new spot this year, watching Red-Tailed Hawks.

Red-tailed nest.jpg

Nest on a ledge in an old quarry. The fine wavy lines on the orange rocks to the left are ripples in the fossilized beach sands that make up Dakota sandstone.

So far this year, there hasn’t been any activity by Red-Tailed Hawks at the nest itself. A couple have landed nearby, but they didn’t approach the nest. They still have a few weeks before they need to decide where they want to raise their young this year.

I did see a pair of Red-Tails come by, but I think they were migrants, on their way further north. The Dakota Hogback is a major hawk migration route, and this nest is very close to the hogback.

red-tailed hawk-5

I was only able to photograph one of the migrating Red-Tails, and that was against a cloudy background that makes it hard to appreciate their colors. But this bird has classic Red-Tailed markings — dark head and leading edge of the wings, dark “commas” where the flight feathers begin, white underside with a dark belly band. And of course, a red tail.

But I did spend a pleasant couple of hours watching 50 Dark-Eyed Juncos scratch in the dirt.

dark-eyed juncos-1

All Dark-Eyed Juncos have dark eyes and pinkish bills. But Dark-Eyed Juncos come in four different color variations. The dark headed bird above is an Oregon morph.

dark-eyed juncos-7

Male pink-sided Dark-Eyed Junco.

I would have called this a tri-color bird, but it is officially called a pink-sided Dark Eyed Junco. The sides look more orange or tan to me, but again, I didn’t get to name it.

Pink sided dark eyed junco-1.jpg

Female pink-sided Dark-eyed junco. See how her colors aren’t as intense?

At the same time I was watching these little guys forage in the foreground, about 20 Mountain Bluebirds looked for food about ten yards distant.

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With their striking blue colors, these guys are noticeable when they fly by in a flock.

 

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Male Mountain bluebird going after something it’s seen on the ground.

female Mountain Bluebird-3.jpg

As with many bird species, the females lack the bright colors that the males wear. But you can still see a line of blue just under her wing and onto her tail.

About coloradogeography

Amy Law is a second-generation Coloradoan with a passion for her native state. This translated into a Master’s degree in Natural Resources from Colorado State University, and continues as a lifelong fascination with how people and nature interact. From family vacations in the station wagon to travel for work, she's covered the state, and everywhere she goes, she finds new things to see and ideas to explore.
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4 Responses to Hawk Nest Monitoring Begins

  1. Pat Law says:

    Really great blog. Those bluebirds are wonderful. Good Work

  2. Tracy Abell says:

    I didn’t know you did this, Amy. How cool!
    Thank you for sharing all those wonderful photos!

  3. Hey, Tracy! Yeah, it’s a good use of that natural resources degree I earned so many years ago. And it forces me to get outside and literally watch what is going on around me. Very good.

  4. Mountain blue birds are always so eye catching. What a great experience to be able to record all these birds.

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