Birding Assignment: Up In The Sky

It is one of those things. You’re sitting at your desk, gazing out the window and watching birds fly back and forth. They are of all sizes, small and big. They range from sparrows to the large crows, who have begun to repopulate the region. (The crow population suffered horribly from the West Nile outbreak in 2003.) And, the robin population seems to be higher in numbers also.

robin: on sentinel watch (from Jun 2014)

Then, you see a large bird take flight, taking a direction which nearly goes overhead. You adjust your gaze at the large bird. Expecting to see a large crow, you are surprised by what you see. A bird with white head feathers and dark brown feathers on the body and wings. There is only one bird, or should I say raptor, fitting that description – a bald eagle. And, if there is one, there is another.

In this part of Colorado, an eagle, bald and golden, has not been seen for many, many years. The closest population is located at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, now National Wildlife Refuge, east of Denver.

The camera, that was in the other room, still in the camera bag. Ready for tomorrow’s all day practice session.

If it’s an eagle, we’re on watch now. Our neighborhood is an ideal hunting ground for raptors with plump doves and rock pigeons, squirrels and the like. Several Cooper’s Hawks have been hunting here for the past few years.

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7 thoughts on “Birding Assignment: Up In The Sky

  1. We have lots of Cooper’s hawks, red tail hawks and few Bald Eagles that fly up and down the Rio Grand. A Bald Eagle was sitting in the very top of a tree about 300 yards from me the other day, but the sun had already gone down, so I could only get a silhouette of it with my 200mm lens.

      • Maybe they are ranging out in your area. I was so surprised the first time I saw the Bald Eagle, but now I see it quite often.

        • It would be great if they are ranging out into our area. If there is a place for them to live, I’d prefer if they lived on the Fort Carson military reservation. The Army does a very excellent job at land and wildlife management than the enviros would give them credit for. The main reservation is home for foxes, coyotes, lynx, bobcats, deer, crows, a small population of magpies and blackbirds, etc.

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  2. Just wanted to follow up on something you noted in your post: the crow population in the Midwest was also absolutely decimated by the West Nile Virus more than 10 years ago. It was worse in northeast Illinois (I began to wonder if they’d been wiped out completely) than in central Indiana, but in both locations the impact was undeniable. Finally, over the last two years or so, I’ve noticed a return of crows in northeast Illinois. They’re slowly, but steadily, beginning to restore their numbers.

    • Your observation is similar to what we’ve seen in Colorado. Last year was the first time I had seen a large grouping of crows. The years before, may be you would see one or two. Most surprisingly, at its worst, the crow population retreated to the Fort Carson military reservation. On post, they have a very aggressive mosquito mitigation program. So, it would seem the crows knew where the safe harbor was located at. The one population that was hit very hard in Colorado are the magpies. They used to be everywhere, but now you only see them in pockets. Hopefully, they too will restore their numbers.

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      • The last 6-8 months has been the first time I’ve seen any significant number of crows together in the Chicago area. A cluster of five or six are now regularly making the area near my base home.

        The other bird species that I noted that was devastated in the area by West Nile was the junco variety of sparrows. They had been thick as thieves before the virus and were almost completely obliterated by it. Two or three years ago I started seeing them again and they’ve continued to recover fairly quickly. They’re still not in the numbers they exhibited before the arrival of West Nile but they’re getting there. Hopefully you’ll see the same with the magpies.

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