Category Archives: carnival
Every time I mentioned that I needed to see Rosy-Finches, I was told I had to go to Sandia Crest. The first time, I had no idea what or where Sandia Crest was. From mid-November through March the 3 species of Rosy-finches are supposedly there at the gift shop cum restaurant. Lest you feel out of the loop, let me fill you in. Sandia Crest House is in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the very top of Sandia Mountain at 10,678 ft. The tram will not get you there by the way, you have to drive up or hike the rest of the way up from the tram stop.
I was told seeing the Rosy-Finches was a sure thing, that they were there in masse. But, you know how these sure things go, right. I went up the day after a snowstorm, confident I was going to be ticking them off my list. With all that snow, they would surely be at the feeders. When we arrived, the staff said they had just been there and that they came about every 30-40 minutes. Great. We sat down to wait, and we waited, we ordered lunch, and waited some more. After an hour and a half, only 2 Black Rosy-Finches had come to the feeder. I bounced up and snapped a few shots through the windows. We went back to waiting. Finally after 3 hours, we threw in the towel and went down the mountain to try for Pinyon Jays and Scaled Quail (which I did not see either).
But as luck and the birding gods would have it, my conference ended early and I was able to rent a car and quick, quick, scoot back to the mountain on the last day I was there. The sky got darker as I drove out of town and more threatening as I drove up the mountain. When I stepped out of the car at the top of the mountain, the wind was whipping around and the clouds looked like snow. With an eye to the sky, I negotiated the icy walk to the Sandia Crest House.
I was not in the restaurant at a table facing the feeder for more than 10 minutes before a large swirling flock of birds came in. I grabbed my bins afraid they would take off before I had a good look. The feeder swayed with the wind and a tray full of birds.
The Black Rosy-Finch is very distinctive looking, no problem identifying that. The Brown-capped Rosy-Finch is brown over all with dark-centered crown feathers that fade toward rear. Of the 3 subspecies of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, 2 of them were at Sandia Crest, the interior (Gray-crowned) and the costal (Gray-cheeked or Hepburn). They are all 6.25″, slightly larger than a House Finch.
Now a Bird Quiz. Can you tell them apart?
Oh yeah, there were also Mountain Chickadees, Gray-headed Juncos, Red-Breasted Nuthatches, White-breast Nuthatches, Steller’s Jays and Ravens .
For detailed info on the Rosy-Finches at Sandia Crest check out their website.
All my photos were taken through the plate-glass windows, so they are not as crisp as I would like, but the birds were skittish whenever I opened the door.
I am off to Phoenix, Arizona for a business trip on Wednesday. I hope to get over to the Desert Botanical Gardens again (one of my favorite places) to do a little morning birding. Then once the conference is over, I will have a few days to dedicate to birding in Southeast Arizona. I’m totally jazzed. Stay tuned…I’ll blog from the road.
Have you posted your bird photo this week with Birdfreak?
Most people dislike snakes. I am not sure if it’s an old testament thing or a slithery, scary, cold-blooded, bitey thing, but either way few folk will go out of their way to embrace them. So imagine my surprise to see the Snake Bridge crossing six-lanes of Route I-10 in downtown Tucson, Arizona. Only in the desert southwest would this be possible. Complete with fangs, diamondback and the tail with its rattle sticking straight up into the sky, this beauty may be the only one you can get out of…alive….
Would you walk into the belly of a snake?
Check out other skies at Skywatch.
I was with friends the other day and we were talking about if you were a bird which one would you be. There were lots of interesting answers from hawks (of course) to a vulture (you can’t be serious!) to eagles (hmmm, yes but have you heard their call?), and an Anna’s Hummingbird (biggest of the small). Me? I want to be a scissor-tailed flycatcher. I love that tail and their soft demure beauty, but buddy, you had better watch out when they fly. The underside of those wings are the most amazing shade of salmon pink.
What bird would you be?
Interested in seeing other skies from around the world? Visit Skywatch
And check out Bird Photography Weekly for some great shots of birds.
I went birding in Brazil with Richard Raby back in March. It was a fabulous experience and Richard a great guide. Note to self–I really should write up my thoughts and list from that trip and post them. I love owls but rarely see them in the daytime. Maybe it was the warm rain on a gray day, but these guys were everywhere. Can you see the rain in the picture?
Check out the other Skywatchers too at SkyWatch Friday.
And for two-fers. Wrenaisssance has hosted a terrific I and the Bird #83. It is all about the joy of birds and birding and birders. Check it out.