This is just one of the scenic views at Bosque del Apache near Socorro, NM. This article is the second in my series recounting my recent trip to “The Bosque.” Time to get up-close and personal with the birds! Since Bosque is renowned for its masses of wintering Sandhill Cranes…I’ll save those for my last article in this series! There are TONS of birds at Bosque, and I’ll start with a Roadrunner:
This is the first time I have ever had a nice, LONG look at a Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus). It feels funny to describe my encounter this way, since my previous mental image of a roadrunner was the Disney cartoon character, who was always gone in a flash.
Not much of a resemblance…but the dashing around is true enough. This roadrunner did something really cool while I stood at the opposite side of the road, watching him as the occasional car idled by. After about 5 minutes with no cars, the roadrunner turned his back to the sun, spread his wings, and soaked up some warmth! It turns out that this is a noted behavior for roadrunners. Roadrunners can lower their body temperature overnight, thereby conserving energy. So in the mornings, there may be quite a few roadrunners who are a bit extra-chilly. Their skin is black, which is all the better to soak up that much-needed heat.1
The next bird I want to share with you is a Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya):
When I saw this bird, I knew it was a flycatcher of some sort, but I had to wait until I could study the picture and consult my field guides before I could identify him. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to identify him at all…but this little guy is pretty distinctive, with his buff belly and black tail.
I think I figured out why many of my pictures were so poorly focused. When I first arrived, I attempted some hand-held shots from my car, and switched my vibration reduction setting to “active.” Then I gave up the whole hand-held thing, and returned to my usual tripod method.
I never switched my vibration reduction back to “normal.” I’m not 100% sure, but that is what makes the most sense to me. So, fellow birder-photographers, there’s a tip for ya.
The phoebe eventually dashed off, and I moved on.
I saw another phoebe while visiting Bosque del Apache – a Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) !!!
He exhibited the typical tail-wagging behavior of most flycatchers, and he sure looked snazzy doing it!
Ok, time to talk about raptors:
This raptor (above) was sitting quite still, and I noticed that he did not look like the raptor I usually see at home (Red-tailed Hawk). There are Red-tailed Hawks just about everywhere!
I am not a whiz at raptor ID, but I think this may be a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk. If anyone knows for sure, please speak up! Look at the difference in the length of the tail feathers, between these two. Pretty distinct, huh?
As long as I am talking about raptors, I will go ahead and share a mediocre-at-best photo of a colorful American Kestrel (Falco sparverius). I realize that these tiniest of falcons can be seen just about anywhere in the US, but it took a giant road trip for me to finally see one!
I think now is a good time to bring this installment of the Bosque del Apache series to a close. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!
Time to go outside!
- The Behavior of Texas Birds, by Kent Rylander, ©2002 ↩
- Note- Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. A shapefile of this map is available for download at www.natureserve.org/getData/animalData.jsp. ↩
- Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. A shapefile of this map is available for download at www.natureserve.org/getData/animalData.jsp. ↩