Monday, August 31, 2009
Twice a Year, in spring and again in late summer the wetlands and shores of the Great Salt Lake are host to the amazing Wilson's Phalarope. This bird migrates 6000 miles twice a year from it's breeding grounds in the North American Prairies to it's wintering grounds in South America. The Phalarope loves brine shrimp and 70% of the worlds population of Wilson's Phalaropes stage on the shores of the Great Salt Lake during their migration to fatten up for their long journey south.
Unlike most species of birds where the male is the more ornate and brightly colored to attract females the female Wilson's Phalarope is more brightly colored, the female Wilson's Phalarope is also polyandrous, and may mate with several males. Once her eggs are laid she takes off leaving the incubation and care of the eggs and young to the male. She may nest with several males in the same season.
Watching Phalaropes feed is very entertaining. they will swim or spin in circles creating a vortex in the water that draws in brine shrimp or other macro-invertebrates then they will feast on the them. August and September is the time to watch for these birds in wetlands like Farmington Bay and in large numbers along the Causeway to Antelope Island
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I have chosen the Scrub Jay as Bird of the Month for August. In my opinion the Scrub Jay is one of the most beautiful birds in our area. The Scrub Jay is one of the first birds I was able to ID when I started keeping my life list, they are one of my favorite birds and I love having them in my yard because of their comic nature, their beauty and they are fairly tame.
This year there were at least two nests of Scrub Jays in the pine trees that border our yard and we have had some very tame and comical juvenile Scrubbies hanging out in our yard this summer. Last year my next door neighbor brought over some peanuts they found growing in their yard compliments of the Scrub Jays. I love watching the Scrub Jays gather peanuts and pound them into the ground with their beaks then find a leaf and lay over the top of it. Some people complain that they don't like Scrub Jays because they are so aggressive and noisy and scare off the other birds. I have not found this to be true. While the smaller birds give the Scrub Jays plenty of room when the come around I have not found that the smaller birds are driven off by the Scrub Jays. Here is a little Scrub Jay info
Size & Shape
A lanky bird with long, floppy tail and an often hunched-over posture.
Blue and gray above, with a pale underside broken up by a blue necklace. In birds, the color blue depends on lighting, so Western Scrub-Jays often look simply dark.
Assertive, vocal, and inquisitive. You’ll often notice scrub-jays silhouetted high in trees, on wires, or on posts where they act as lookouts. In flight seems underpowered and slow, with bouts of fluttering alternating with glides.
Look for Western Scrub-Jays in open habitats of the West: oak woodlands and chaparral near the coast and pinyon-juniper woodlands of the interior West; also backyards, pastures, and orchards. Typically, though not always, in lower and drier habitats than Steller’s Jay.