Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prothonotary Warbler - extremely rare in Utah

As promised, here's the third bird post in the trilogy.  About two weeks ago I began hearing that a Prothonotary Warbler had been seen in Ogden.  This is an extremely rare bird for Utah.  It likes warm, humid, even tropical climate.  It is found in the eastern U.S. down into South America, but it seems to stop at the Mississippi River.  A friend of mine photographed one in Utah six years ago.  I found it so unique and charming, I chose it for a watercolor subject for my class last summer.
So when I heard the specific location and directions, I made plans to look for this rarity on the coming weekend.  This is what is known as a "lifer" in the birding world--a bird so rarely seen, it hasn't made many birders' life lists for Utah yet.

Saturday morning I picked up my sister, Deb, and we drove to Fort Buenaventura State Park in Ogden, Utah.  I took my smart phone with my newly-purchased iBird app.  Once we arrived, we found the location quite easily and found a couple of other birders there.  I played a few of the bird calls on iBird, and got immediate response.  We found him!

We observed, listened, and watched this tiny brightly-colored bird flit among the branches.  But photographing him proved daunting.  Yellow leaves in the tall cottonwoods, and filtered morning sunlight made for a lot of mistaken sightings.  But then this charming bird flew down to a post just in front of us and gave us a great opportunity for some clear shots.  I was so thrilled, I could hardly get my camera in motion.  But I did!  I had to do some cropping to get close-up views, so these aren't as sharp as I would have liked.

We then moved a few steps along the trail and found the Yellow Warbler pair and their nest just about four feet off the ground.  These birds are all yellow with some brown markings, and very tiny!  This pair posed for me less than five feet away.

A week earlier, my friend had posted pictures of the baby birds: one baby warbler and two much larger COWBIRD babies!  By the time I saw it, the tiny warbler baby was nowhere to be seen and the cowbirds filled the little nest to overflowing.  Their wings hung over the sides. The warbler pair were working hard to keep these two birds fed.
A few days ago, another birder reported only one cow bird baby in the nest.  No-one knows what happened to the other.  Not the best scenario this year for this little pair of warbler parents.


Catfish Tales said...

Such lovely shots! And amazingly so, as nature is so hard to capture on camera. 'Tis a pretty bird!

Bekkieann said...

Thank you, Shers. I must credit a lot of it to luck and a decent camera.