Bird Lady Blog

October 8, 2009

Brown Creeper, Red-Faced Warbler, and Cordilleran Flycatcher

Filed under: Brown Creeper Red-Faced Warbler Cordilleran Flycatcher,Munds Park Birding — Munds Park Birding @ 4:05 am

Brown CreeperIn the last article I asked you the question, “what is the least expensive way to attract birds to your property”?  Thoughts that come to mind include bird-friendly landscaping, natural habitat, brush piles, nest boxes, bird feeders with seed, suet or nectar, and finally, water.  In my opinion, water is the winner.  A simple bird bath or water dish will do more to attract birds to your home than any of the other ideas mentioned – and the price is right!  At our home, we have had a large variety of birds, from the large Crows to tiny Lesser Goldfinch, take advantage of our water dishes. 

 We have one simple pan that fits into a holder that attaches to the top railing of our deck.  In the pan I place a flat rock, which holds down the pan on windy days if it’s become dry.  The rock also serves as an indicator for the birds of the depth of the water.  Occasionally birds will bathe in the pan, but ours is mostly used for drinking.  If you would like to invest in something fancier, as Munds Park resident Martha W. has, install a bird bath with a drip system – birds are really attracted to running or moving water.

 The material you use and type of water container is not as important as keeping the container clean and filled with fresh water.  An occasional light scrubbing with a mixture of nine parts water to one part vinegar will ensure your water oasis is safe for drinking.

 I’ve written about eight of the most common birds you will see in Munds Park, but how about some of the surprises?  Three that come to mind are the Brown Creeper, Red-Faced Warbler, and the Cordilleran Flycatcher.

The Brown Creeper has a special place in my heart.  Ten summers ago when we were cabin-hunting here, I finally found a house that I thought would be perfect.  My husband was out-of-town, so I had the fun job one weekend to look at houses without him.  As our realtor (Rosie, that means you) and I stood on the deck, there on a tree in our soon-to-be property was a Brown Creeper, climbing up the trunk, about eight yards away.  I took it as a sign that Munds Park was going to be a fun place to not only enjoy golf but also birding.  The next time I saw a Brown Creeper was during a hike in the forest on the way to Mormon Lake.  The Brown Creeper is not a common bird, and it is hard to see.  It is a brown, camouflaged small bird that does just what its name says – creeps up trees in search of insects and plucks them out of the bark with its curved bill. 

I have been told that Red-Faced Warblers inhabit Munds Park, and I will buy someone breakfast if she or he can show me one.  This bird would be a “lifer” for me.  The Red-Faced Warbler is only found in Arizona and New Mexico in the USA, and its habitat is the high forest.  Well, that high forest description fits Munds Park, and friends have told me they’ve had this bird at their bird bath, but I’ve not been that lucky.  Look for a small bird, red face, mostly gray body, with a black crescent on its head amid the red.  An interesting fact about the Red-Faced Warbler is that it nests on the ground, often in old mouse holes, under a fallen log or plant.

 The Cordilleran Flycatcher is a bird we’ve had the privilege of seeing up close because a pair has nested under our deck for four of the five years we’ve been in this house.  This flycatcher used to be called the Western Flycatcher, but a few years back ornithologists determined that here were really two species, the other one being the Pacific-Slope Flycatcher.  Trust me, you and I can hardly tell the difference between the two, but all my field guides state that it’s the Cordilleran Flycatcher here in Munds Park.  This bird is only about five inches long with a triangular type head with small crest.  Its dominant color is olive, and it has a white eye ring.  If you are lucky enough to have a pair build their oval cup-like nest on a beam on your deck, plan on not sitting on the deck for a while as they sit on the eggs and raise their young.  Every time we’d go out on the deck the poor bird would fly away and then chirp from a nearby branch, making us feel bad that we were intruding on her nesting responsibilities.  She obviously felt sharing the deck with humans was not acceptable.  So we’d head back in and let it go back to its nest in peace. 

 By the time you read this article, birds are preparing for or undertaking fall migration.  Robins and Western Bluebirds are flocking together and dispersing from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Soon the Hawk Watch over the Grand Canyon will take place – a sight to behold as Canadian and northern states hawks head down the fly-way across the Canyon.  More to come on that topic next time.  You can contact me at margaretdyekman@cox.net.

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