Highlights from September 16 Bird Walk to Chatfield State Park

Wood Duck (c) Mick Thompson

Migration is in full swing, and eleven of us got to partake of a good dose of it this past Saturday at Chatfield State Park. We had eight members of the Anatidae family (swans, geese and ducks), and this will continue to get better. Some of the males are emerging gloriously from their eclipse plumage, and in another few weeks all the boys should look primed for courtship. A highlight for me was getting to see the emerging deep blue-turquoise in the secondaries of the Wood Ducks. They looked sort of scruffy and then you’d get this flash of incredible color!

Eared Grebe (c) Bill Schmoker

We also had three species of grebes with our single Eared Grebe still mostly in breeding plumage, looking quite dark with its wispy yellow ear plumes.

Sabine’s Gull (c) Bill Schmoker









Sabine’s Gull (c) John Hoogerheide


Three big highlights were a pair of Sabine’s Gulls, a pair of Common Terns, and a single Black Phoebe. Historically, the Sabine’s Gulls and Common Terns have always shown up in low numbers during fall migration, but they are never something to take for granted and are always cause for celebration. In particular, the striking black, gray, and white wing pattern of the Sabine’s is always a treat to see.

Black Phoebe (c) Bill Schmoker

The appearance of the Black Phoebe in northern Colorado is a very interesting occurrence. When, Harold Holt and James Lane published A Birder’s Guide to Colorado in 1987, they noted that Black Phoebes had only been seen in Colorado less than six times in the prior ten years, with the first bird ever recorded in 1972. Then, when Bob Andrews and Bob Righter published their Colorado Birds in 1992 they noted a total of thirteen records for the state, with three breeding records for Pueblo County. We now see in The Second Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas which was just published in 2016 that the Black Phoebe is “a champion of range expansion,” nesting along numerous rivers and streams throughout the southern half of the state. And, sightings in northern Colorado continue to increase. Lucky us!

The migration show should continue to be great for a few more weeks. Hope you can get out and enjoy it!

Good birding! Chuck


Chatfield SP, Sep 16, 2017
50 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  98
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  4
Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors)  1
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  4
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  32
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  1
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  3
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  25
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  6
Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)  1
Western Grebe (Aechmorphorus occidentalis) 20
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  90
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  65
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  8
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  3
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  2
Golden Eagle (Aquila chryaetos) 1
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1
Bald Eagle (Halliaeetus leucocephalus) 2
American Coot (Fulica americana)  106
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  41
Baird’s Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii) 1
Sabine’s Gull (Xema sabini) 2
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  51
California Gull (Larus californicus) 3
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) 2
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  7
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) 1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 2
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 1
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) 1
Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)  2
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  1
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  15
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  11
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  24
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 9
Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta Canadensis 1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
Brown Creeper Certhia americana 1
American Robin Turdus migratorius 1
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) 1
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) 1
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) 1
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 7
House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus 1
Pine Siskin Spinus pinus 3
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2

Author: Chuck Aid

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