Monday, December 21, 2015
A Minnesotan's Last Hurrah
One last post (temporary, as I know they will return!), for Josh Wallestad and his son Evan. After an exciting trip to southeastern Arizona under the belt, I met up with Josh and his entire family at Kiwanis Park in Tempe a couple of days after our epic one-day trip. Once again, Josh had a couple of target birds for this city birding. The first is the Rosy-faced Lovebird, which is very popular as a caged bird in the United States and the pet industry has over the years perpetuated various color mutations of this small parrot. This bird is originally from southwestern Africa, but readily breeds in captivity and it was easy to introduce to the pet industry decades ago. In Arizona, small feral flocks of these birds started being reported in the Phoenix suburbs, especially in the east valley ion the late 1980's. These birds were most likely escapees or ones that owners turned loose when they were no longer wanted. These birds were a natural for desert life and they quickly adapted to Arizona. They favor the towns and suburban areas with water sources nearby, so they have slowly but surely expanded their range within the suburban areas and now range throughout the Phoenix metro area from east to west. Their population has expanded to well over 6,000 by the latest lovebird census count. Due to the expansion and the fact that they have been holding their own, they are now an acceptable bird included on ABA's list of birds in the United States, but can only be counted in Arizona, and specifically in the Phoenix area.
Along with the normal color of these ubiquitous bird, some of the color mutations occasionally show up in the wild mixed flocks. I arrived at Kiwanis Park a bit earlier than Josh and his family, and immediately counted 13 of these very noisy birds and was astounded that besides the normal color, I also found a couple of color mutations; blue and lutino (yellow). It was not long before Josh arrived and I quickly got him and Evan and their family on them, even though a few of the birds had departed.
Rosy-faced Lovebirds - Note the yellow (lutino) one second from the top on the wire.
Rosy-faced Lovebirds - Note the blue color mutation on the left lower corner
Another photo of a normal adult and a blue adult.
While observing one of the lovebirds a pair of Gilded Flickers flew in and landed within 15 feet of us. Can't pass up photos of this bird when that happens!
Gilded Flicker - Male
Gilded Flicker - Female
The next target bird for this day was the Brown Pelican. Interestingly, this mostly coastal bird, has had a couple of them take up residency in Tempe Town Lake, the past few years, which makes them a bit of an anomaly in the state of Arizona which does not have a sea coast. Josh had mentioned that he would not be disappointed if he did not get this bird in AZ as he knew that sooner or later, he would be able to see them in Florida. But isn't it a bit more of a novelty to say you got your lifer Brown Pelican in a land-locked state? At least that is the way I look at it and that was my history of this bird. So away we went to Tempe Town Lake. It did not take long to find one at the east of the lake as it came flying in from the west.
A bit of a short day, but an easy way to add two new life birds to Josh and Evan's life lists.