Who's Your Daddy?
Category: Birding at the Chico
Birds sometimes breed with other birds of different species producing hybrids that often look like two different species combined.  This sparrow was photographed on the Chico yesterday by Jeannie Mitchell.  One of the parents is a Harris's Sparrow and the other might be it's closest relative, White-crowned Sparrow.  The two species winter together, White-crowns are very common in winter on the Chico while Harris's Sparrow is rare here.  Harris's Sparrow is believed to be the only Candaian endemic breeding passerine, all other Canadian passerines also breed elsewhere.  Harris was Edward Harris who accompanied Audubon on his travels up the Missouri River in 1843.  It was in Missouri where the first specimen was collected by Thomas Nuttall in 1834.  Harris's Sparrow was one of the last passerines to have its eggs and nest discovered and described due to its remote breeing location in arctic Canada.
Posted by Bill M. on 01/22/2013

Ferruginous Hawk - Chico
Category: Birding at the Chico
Ferrugionous Hawk is an uncommon raptor.  However, during winter, they can be common in areas with prairie-dogs; seeing them on the Chico is expected.  In Colorado, Ferruginous Hawk is listed as a Species of Special Concern and they have adapted to the prairie ecosystem.  This species sometimes perches at the entrance to a prairie-dog burrow and waits for a prairie-dog to emerge. From historic times, black-tailed prairie-dogs has been reduced by 95% and as a result the number of Ferruginous Hawks in their range have also declined.  In areas where there are gophers, Ferruginous Hawks will grab at the earth as gophers push soil to the top of its shallow burrow.  Unlike most raptors that fly away from gun shots, Ferruginous Hawks will frequently fly towards rifle shots, looking for dead squirrels or prairie-dogs.  This is a large raptor with a wingspan as long as 60 inches.  In flight they hold their wings elevated in a dihedral.
Posted by Bill M. on 01/10/2013

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