Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waterbirds put on show at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

Temperatures starting to warm closer to long-term averages, today low 60's. Shorebirds still a mainstay for wildlife watching as Pond 5 remains drawn down. Digiscoped 3 species today: white-faced ibis, long-billed dowitcher and Wilson's phalarope.

Ibis, along with herons, spoonbills, and storks, form the Order Ciconiiformes in the Class Aves. There are about 119 species worldwide. White-faced ibis are stunning to see with their glossy purple plumage...I can understand why ancient Egyptians worshipped them...for beauty of course :-)
I remember seeing my first Wilson's phalarope, a bird spinning like a top in a shallow wetland in Northern Illinois. It was just as Roger Tory Peterson described in the first field guide I owned. It was empowering!

Dowitchers, well, they are very challenging to identify even in high breeding plumage. Good looks with expensive equipment is usually a necessity. As usual, listening for diagnostic call notes can trump visual features for identification purposes. Today, a single short-billed dowitcher was feeding outside the main group of long-billed dowitcher...identification nailed down when I heard the mellow "tudulu" flight call.