Training for the field season has begun! Last Monday, about a dozen surveyors gathered at Moapa’s Warm Springs Natural Area for Day 1 of a couple of weeks of birding and practicing protocols. It's been great! Sadly, I haven’t been carrying my good camera with me, so I was unable to get usable photos of the Lucy’s Warblers, Vermilion Flycatchers and Phainopeplas building their nests, but it was fun to watch! The Phainopepla male was carefully placing materials on a forked branch about 4m up a 5m tall screwbean mesquite, the nest site shaded by a clump of branches, above. A little over a meter below the Phainopepla nest, a Vermilion Flycatcher female sat inside the nest cup, delicately rearranging the materials in front of her with her beak. The Lucy’s Warblers are cavity-nesters, so I wasn’t able to watch the action beyond one of the pair (probably the female) carrying a beakful of fluff up to a crevice in a cottonwood snag, the (probable) male accompanying her on her travels.
A little over a week later, my crew is in the field, collecting double-observer point count data and doing veg work. Yesterday morning, however, we went out again to practice with our area search technique ... and this time I brought my camera! The Phainopepla male hasn’t yet enticed a female to join him, but the Vermilion Flycatcher female is now incubating, with the male making numerous trips her way with food.
|A Vermilion Flycatcher male surveys his domain|
|Female Vermilion Flycatcher on nest|
And (drumroll), flying over several of our plots was an adult Common Black-Hawk!
All in all, a fantastic time in the field. Happy birding, everyone!