My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

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A Life Bird, Another Snowy, and a Cooperative Kestrel

Published December 29, 2013
Tags: Life List Happenings, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Snowy Owl, American Kestrel

The last three days have been very birdy! Besides Friday's CBC with Celeste (Christmas Bird Count for the Oak Orchard circle), I've done a little "river gulling", some field surveys, and some chasing!

Yesterday, I chased a Purple Sandpiper (again!) to no avail.  I met up with Jerry Lazarczyk who had also tried a few times for the same sandpiper that Jim Pawlicki found last week. Jerry has struck out a few times too and we shared our woes...  Maybe the bird is gone or maybe we've just had bad timing, I'm not sure. Hopefully, I'll still get a chance to see a Purple Sandpiper again!

Today, after visiting the Power Vista and looking at more gulls, I went out to Hilton, NY to see if I could find the Eurasian Collared-Dove that's been see there. As I was slowly driving up the road, I saw an American Kestrel up ahead on a phone line.  Normally, these guys are shy and very skittish but, with my car as a blind, I was able to cautiously creep up fairly close to her. What a gorgeous bird the kestrel is.  I just LOVE these guys!  She didn't seem bothered by my presence one bit and, for the first time, I was able to get some halfway decent photos of the American Kestrel, our smallest falcon.  That just made my day right there!  But... it got even better...

I saw some Mourning Doves up in a tree beyond the kestrel.  I was torn between leaving the kestrel and moving on to the Eurasian Collared-Dove.  After an indecisive few minutes, the doves flew off - doh!  So - sticking with the kestrel, eventually I had the joy of watching her catch a mouse (or vole) right in the field below her. She returned to almost the same spot with her prey and ate it.  Very cool.

I began hunting up and down the road for the doves - and finally found a big group down quite a ways. I tried using my binoculars to examine each dove for that little collar but that wasn't working - so I got out my scope.  Just then, Brad Carlson came by and asked if I was birding. I told him what I was looking for and, coincidentally, he had just successfully found and photographed my target bird! Very kindly, Brad got me to the right spot up the road and within only a few minutes, the pretty, little dove showed up right near where he said it would!  Nice!  Thank you for this life bird, Brad!!!

To make the day even better, as Brad was showing me where the dove could be found, he noticed a Snowy Owl fly up and perch on a phone pole just up the road.  Wow!  This is the fifth sixth sighting of a Snowy I've had this season.  After I finished enjoying the Eurasian Collared-Dove, I cautiously drove up near to where the owl was perched and was able to watch it and take some photos of it for a little while.

A couple of interesting facts about the Eurasian Collared-Dove:  this dove was brought from Europe to the Bahamas in the 70's and a few migrated up to Florida within the next few years. They quickly spread and have been moving northward ever since. Some speculate that they're filling the void that the extinct Passenger Pigeon left. This bird usually forages on the ground for seeds and is commonly seen alone or in pairs.

On the way home, I prayed I wouldn't see any more spectacular birds because I had filled-up my only 2 camera memory cards!!!
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Eurasian Collared-Dove
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Eurasian Collared-Dove
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American Kestrel
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American Kestrel
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American Kestrel
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American Kestrel
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Snowy Owl
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Snowy Owl
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Snowy Owl
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Snowy Owl - I think he's winking!
Reply from: Tim on 12/30/2013 9:59 PM
 Looks like you had an awesome day Sue,great photos and another life bird! I had a similar Kestrel experience on Sunday but couldn't get nearly as close ,Great Job!
Reply from: Sue on 12/31/2013 7:01 AM
 Thanks, Tim - and I usually can never get close to a kestrel either. This gal was very unusual. Happy New Year!