Though Bert Raynes’ Far Afield column has been temporarily suspended, bird and wildlife watchers are still calling and emailing in with their sightings. — Eds.
Summertime and the living is hectic.
While painting June 23 at the South Park Wildlife Habitat Management Area, Fred Kingwill saw three pairs of cinnamon teals. Fred also found a pair of American wigeons, a drake mallard and a ring-necked duck.
Kay Modi reports that hiking up to Munger Mountain provided frequent sightings of red-tailed hawks that appeared to enjoy soaring in the cloudless blue sky. More red-tailed hawks have been sighted in the fields adjacent to the Teton Raptor Center. And Kay observed common mergansers near the creeks in the South Park Wildlife Habitat Management Area this past week.
Pamela Perconi reports her first male rufous hummingbird sighting of the season. That is about three weeks earlier than usual. The hummer is letting the others hit two of Pamela’s three hummingbird feeders. He has taken over only one feeder, which is rare. He has been sort of hanging out quietly in the corner of a tiny aspen tree in the garden. Not very rufous-like behavior, but he had been around only 24 hours. Pamela is sure he will get feistier.
Franz Camenzind’s ramblings: Well, four young killdeer (nearly adult size but lots of fuzzy pinfeathers still showing) scooting along the shore of a small pond, clearing it of insects, with parents nearby.
Cliff swallows very busy building their mud apartment complexes. Prairie falcon with at least one young in “nest.” Still white, downy, but getting large. Magpie babies are out of their stick nests and flying all about and squawking their little heads off so the parents can find and feed their gizzards. Yes, all birds have gizzards, but insect eaters have much thinner-walled gizzards then those that eat seeds and harder foods.” Franz also had two gray catbirds feeding on his suet feeder. House sparrows — considered the most common bird in the world — fledged, and tree swallows are now checking out the newly abandoned house. Hmm ... housing shortage in Jackson?
’Tis the season to get out and enjoy our silver lupine. So abundant and fragrant this year. Also seems a bumper year for Uinta ground squirrels.
Back to those cliff swallows: Franz found 20-plus mud nests under construction at an abandoned barn. When finished they will have funnel openings, be lined with fine grasses and contain one to six white to creamy-pink eggs. Both parents share incubation duty, which lasts 10 to 19 days. Cliff swallows are the world’s most gregarious swallow species, with one colony in Nebraska containing upward of 3,700 nests. They tend to feed in groups, focusing on swarming insects high over open fields. They migrate in groups, wintering in central and southern South America. Welcome summer visitors that need no masks.
Susan Patla reports that in Idaho the male rufous hummingbirds have started to show up at feeders. The calliope hummer in her yard has been displaying again, so seems to be starting a second breeding effort. Susan heard a common poorwill near Packsaddle Creek after 10 one night. And on Saturday she saw two newly hatched killdeer chicks along Packsaddle Road with two frantic parents.
Susan Marsh reported one thing of note: a merlin seen Saturday along the north fork of Fall Creek Road.
At the Moran entrance to Grand Teton National Park on Saturday, Frances Clark and Bernie McHugh observed a calliope hummingbird staging from a small dead tree to feed on scarlet gilia in the traffic island.
Not to mention other wildlife, trees and flowers and general business.