Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ankeny Wildlife Refuge and Life Birds for Dawn

An Eastern warbler has been hanging out at a resident's suet feeder near Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. Dawn keeps a life list and had never seen a Yellow-throated Warbler. I don't know if I had or not since I wasn't keeping a list when I lived on the east coast (and still only keep a list of birds seen on our farm). But I love helping Dawn find new birds for her life list. The woman whose suet feeder is favored by this warbler is most gracious and sets aside several hours several times a week to allow birders to invade her privacy and watch for the bird. Most everyone goes away with a new life bird for their list.

We started out on Wednesday, January 29, by stopping first at the kiosk overlook at Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge, which is on our way. Swans had attracted our attention. But the photo I took was of a partial rainbow over a V of grazing geese.

 Onward we went and toured Ankeny awhile (after lunch in Independence) before descending on the gracious hostess of the Yellow-throated Warbler. Other birders were there when we arrived and spotted the warbler before we did and pointed it out to us. It came and left too fast for photos. The next time... it came, grabbed some peanut butter suet from a giant cone feeder... and left. Although Dawn did not get a photo, she did get to add a bird to her life list.

Within walking distance of the Yellow-throated Warbler house is a big old oak tree wherein lives a pair of Lewis's Woodpeckers, another bird Dawn had never seen. According to other birders we talked to in the vicinity, one of the woodpeckers is usually sitting on top of the tree. But when we walked down to look, a juvenile Cooper's Hawk was sitting there instead, blowing in the wind.

Another birder told us about a pair of Lewis's woodpeckers up the road a couple miles, so we drove up the road a couple miles, but all we found was this pair of love birds (Red-tailed Hawks).

We returned to the original oak tree and found the Cooper's Hawk had flown. In its place was a Lewis's Woodpecker, with sunshine lighting up his lovely pink breast. This time, Dawn got photos of her second life bird of the day. This species I have seen several times before, but never so well or so obliging to sit for photos. Here are two of mine.

Dawn says we saw 50 species this day, including a Great-horned Owl on our way home.

I have decided to start keeping a list after all... of all the life birds I help Dawn find. So far, I know of three: the Prairie Falcon from last week and the Yellow-throated Warbler and Lewis's Woodpecker this week. I'll just have to start birding with Dawn more often to help her lengthen her list.What a happy thought!

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