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Monday, May 02, 2016

Powell Lake April 30th

Bonaparte's Gull Powell Lake Lehi, Utah
I don't usually do this...but I took the opportunity to chase a rare bird on Saturday. There was a report of two Horned Grebe out at Powell Lake in Lehi. (Not Lake Powell...different. places altogether.) Since the drive wasn't far...I set out to find it...and I did!

Since I haven't been a birder very long...I wasn't sure if I'd be able to distinguish the difference between a rare-for-our-area Horned Grebe and common-for-our-area Eared Grebe. After much studying...I think I could easily distinguish either one quite readily. Here's what I learned:
The picture above features our common Eared Grebe. There are three distinguishing features that you can notice right away... the feathers on the front of the head on the Eared Grebe will stand up, the yellow feathers by the red eye are wispy, the lower portion of the beak curves up slightly as it comes to the point.
This one is also an Eared Grebe. The feathers on the top of the head are not standing up right now, but you can still see the wispy eye feathers, and the turned up beak.

Now this picture above is of a Horned Grebe. Very similar in color, but notice the yellow eye feathers, they are more dense and create more of a stripe from the eye, rather than a wispy fan. Look at the beak, it has a white tip and a different shape. It's a little shorter, and does not have the upturn in the lower portion like the Eared Grebe. Now take a look at the eye, and follow it to the beak...notice the red line that connects the eye and the beak. Also, the feathers on top of the head do not stand up, but rather the feathers on the cheeks puff out.

You can see the "puffing out" of the cheek feathers better in this picture of a Horned Grebe above.

Here's a picture of a Horned Grebe and an Eared Grebe...with the clues mentioned, can you tell the difference?
I also saw four American White Pelicans on my outing...here's one flying over. Do you see the hump on his beak? That's only present during mating season. The American White Pelican is the only Pelican species that grows a hump. They shed it after laying their eggs. I suppose the growth on their beak helps them attract a mate...Nature is a funny thing.
 Here's three more American White Pelicans. Note that one is sans hump...
 There were a few Pie-Billed Grebe on the lake.
 I also spotted my first Spotted Sandpiper!
The Swainson's Hawks are coming back in full force now. Later in the day I saw one carrying a snake. Bless his heart! I love hawks...I hate snakes.
Of course you can't forget about the shy birds that hang around the lake too. There were several Yellow-Headed Blackbirds hanging out in the reeds. They were very good about staying in the thick of it all...made for some interesting pictures I must say.
It was a good birding day. I saw a total of 28 species. You can see the checklist here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S29320879

I was ecstatic Monday morning to see that my report made it onto the rare bird alert from Cornell. That's a first!

If you haven't tried birding...grab your camera, and go out into your local area and see what hangs around in your neighborhood...you'll be surprised. There are more than just blackbirds and pigeons to be found.

Birding makes every day a treasure hunt!

2 comments:

  1. Wow! Fabulous information and pictures!
    I'm not a border, or wasn't. You've inspired me!
    Thank you for your thoughtful and interesting post.
    Love your blog. Samantha!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing your pictures and educating us! I love birds, however I haven't got the knowledge you do, but doesn't mean I will at some point! LOL! I have always had a fondness for pelicans, so I loved seeing your pictures of the American White Pelicans and love the information about the hump, so interesting!

    Last year we headed to an area in Indiana where the Sandhill Cranes migrate every fall on their way south. They stay there was almost 2 months and let me tell you when then take off early in the morning and come back late afternoon it is an incredible sight! So maybe I'm well on my way to being a birder.

    Thank you again for sharing your pictures of birds I don't see in Indiana. Can't wait to see more! Have a great week!

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