Earlier this month, the sustainable tourism website Rumbos published a photo of an alleged Black Swift taken Dec. 2, 2012, during a birding rally in Tambopata, Peru. If it is indeed a Black Swift, this would be the first known sighting of the species in South America, outside of samples of a Black Swift subspecies collected in Colombia in 1993.
What a great banding season at Barr Lake State Park! It seems like only yesterday that bird bander Meredith McBurney and educator Emily Snode kicked off the season in August, banding 50 birds with only four of our 21 nets open. In retrospect, this proved to be an omen of the sensational fall migration that was to come.
A Royal Tern is a welcome and rare visitor at Barr Lake northeast of Denver and home to Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s headquarters. Since first sighted on July 29 by Steve Mlodinow, this tern has shown off its bright orange bill to many interested gawkers.
Six years ago in late August, Rich Levad, Rob Sparks, Jason Beason and Ken Behrens hiked through spruce fir forest to a spot just above timberline where a Black Swift nest clung to a wet, rocky outcrop. The outing was part of Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s effort to collect baseline data on this little-known species. When no swifts were seen that evening, the scientists wondered if they had already started migrating – and where did they go?
The last bird that breeds in the U.S. and Canada with an unknown winter destination has finally given up its secret. After years of research – and with some luck – three Colorado researchers have learned that Black Swifts travel more than 4,000 miles to spend the winter in Brazil.
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory will sponsor the Barr Lake Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on January 2, one of 48 CBC circles being surveyed in Colorado during the holiday season. The count is open to birders of all skill levels. Last year in the Barr Lake circle, 21 volunteers counted 27,446 birds of 63 species.