I have been trying to keep a daily log of birds at the Parker Ranch
Preserve (5 miles north of Beatty on Hwy 95, Nye Co.), and want to
summarize some of the notes I have for the last few weeks, from early
July until today.
BLACK-THROATED SPARROW--a pair.
COOT--in a small pond fed by springs
SAY’S PHOEBE--nested in our garage and successfully fledged one
WESTERN MEADOWLARK--a few in the riverine meadows.
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER--nested in an elm tree.
A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK showed up on July 7. On July 18 I heard
screaming all morning, and then found the same individual stuck in a
chickenwire fence on our property; I extricated the hawk, and it
promptly flew away unharmed. This gave me a chance to get a very
close look at it, and it appeared much duller brownish-red on the
breast than the California coastal Red-shouldered hawks I am
familiar with, which are bright reddish. This individual has been seen
almost daily by us right up until this morning (August 7), flying low
through the cottonwoods and lush meadows fed by springs that drain
into the Amargosa River. It often sits near pools of water (is it hunting
crayfish, treefrogs or toads?).
A pair of GREAT-HORNED OWLS was seen regularly in July, perching
in the cottonwoods or Ailanthus during the heat of the day, then
hunting beginning at dusk. Pellets showed it was eating large
scorpions and rodents (to be identified).
A GREAT BLUE HERON on July 13 by a spring-fed pool.
WHIT-FACED IBIS--small flocks occasionally fly over the preserve, as
on July 22.
On August 6 at 1100am I scared a flock of 4 LONG-BILLED
CURLEWS from the saltgrass flats along the river floodplain. They
flew far to the south.
One GREATER ROADRUNNER ran by the highway toward the river
meadows on August 6.
A male LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER was seen in a cottonwood
on August 7.
BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRDS dwindled off by July 13, and
suddenly we were invaded by 3-4 female/juvenile RUFOUS
HUMMINGBIRDS on July 12. They have been around through today.
WESTERN FLYCATCHER--one has been around the Leymus
triticoides meadows with cottonwoods and willows all month. I have
only seen one, as on August 6, when it was seen at dusk flying into a
small cottonwood; it flicked its tail upwards, then flew off. I have heard
it give a high thin “teep” call on some evenings from this area, as on
July 22, August 1, and August 5. I heard only one complete song
during last spring, and although I am no expert, the song to me
sounded identical to singing birds I grew up with from the east bay
hills near Oakland, California.
A singing BELL’S VIREO appeared in the willows and honey mesquite
by the spring on July 17.
One BEWICK’S WREN was heard calling by the spring flow on July 27
A LARK SPARROW has appeared on July 26 and August 1.
WESTERN TANAGER--after a very busy spring migration of these
birds here, a long hiatus has been followed up by the appearance of
lone birds (males) on July 27, July 30, and August 7.
One LUCY’S WARBLER showed up in an Ailanthus tree in our yard on
On August 2, I am fairly sure a BLACK SWIFT flew by along the river
meadows heading north, at 1000am. It was as large as a
White-throated, much larger than a Vaux’s, and was all black, with no
white rump patches seen. It flew in graceful circles, with seemingly
shallower or slower wingbeats than I have seen in White-throated. I
have seen Chimney swifts in the East, and do not think it was this
A lone female LAZULI BUNTING was calling vigorously from the
cottonwood meadows on August 6.
PINE SISKIN calls were heard from elms/cottonwoods on the morning
of August 6.
Most surprising to me this summer, a RED CROSSBILL made a brief
appearance on the ranch property on July 25. At 1140 am, while
walking behind the spring area, I heard the characteristic “kip-kip-kip”
calls several times. I went to investigate a bird on top of a cottonwood,
but could not see it. Then it flew off out over the creosote hills, and
through binoculars I could see its big crossed bill, slightly notched tail,
and orangish coloration. It continued calling as it flew out over the
barren hills, not following the river. I am very familiar with this species
in the Sierra Nevada, and have witnessed an irruption into the
lowlands of the Bay Area many years ago.
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