Field Notes

A ring-billed gull flies near Kelly Warm Springs last week.

In Buffalo Valley, Deb Patla remarks that it always astounds her how birds’ coloring either matches so strongly (nutcrackers in aspen trees) or parts of them stand out astonishingly, like the heads of male woodpeckers and the party-dressed grosbeaks. Deb saw a group of six or eight redpolls near her yard on Jan. 3. What a year for that species.

Steve Poole finds it interesting to see birds choosing our Jackson climate as their winter migration stop.

In town, at John Hebberger Jr.’s house: lots of black-capped and mountain chickadees on seed and suet blocks. New this past week is the arrival of flocks of house finches enjoying seed. A single male northern flicker, magpies and Clark’s nutcrackers are enjoying the suet. Plenty of mule deer near John’s house — as many as eight, and all are does with their 2021 fawns.

What was very noticeable was what were not to be seen on Jan. 3 in the Antelope Flats/Kelly Warm Springs area and on the National Elk Refuge: no bighorn sheep along the Refuge Road, at the base of Miller Butte, and no moose anywhere out on Antelope Flats. At Kelly Warm Springs, though, there was a flock of mallards, a single coot and a highly unusual, single, ring-billed gull that was floating and then flying above the warm springs.

On Jan. 7, four mule deer — two adults, two female youngsters — trotted across Kelly Avenue from Mike Yokel Park in East Jackson, reports K.O. Strohbehn. On Jan. 9, Jennifer Dorsey and K.O. found 11 bighorn sheep along the Refuge Road.

In Kelly, Bev Boynton and “Whitey” White’s neighbors put a bird feeder up this week; quickly a large flock of gray-crowned rosy finches were eating away, along with a handful of perky and persistent redpolls. A couple of mule deer carcasses north of town have drawn in ravens, which need to eat, though it’s sad to see the roadkill.

While ski touring near the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park on Jan. 3, Richard and Francesca Rice saw a solitary dipper along the shore and two bald eagles fly over. Richard spied four American goldfinches at the feeders in their South Park Ranches yard on Jan. 8, the first visit by that species this winter. The only other visitors to their feeder this week were the resident black-capped chickadees.

The feeder watching at Dennis and Marian Butcher’s is almost entirely of chickadees with an occasional junco on the ground beneath. They have had mule deer in the yard browsing lilac bushes, even midday, which seems to suggest these storms have stressed them. A deer or elk roadkill south of town was attracting many magpies, ravens and at least eight bald eagles on Jan. 6.

Diane Birdsall reports a small flock of redpolls flew in to feed on a seed-encrusted suet owl Jan. 7. Their feathers were sharply delineated blacks and whites with a soft rose breast and the males’ crimson red crown. Flighty and definitely on the move, they picked ravenously at the food but left all too soon.

Kay Modi spotted five wolves the morning of Jan. 9 across from the airport turnoff road. Additionally, two wolves were on the Elk Refuge. Nice subzero start to the day.

Susan Marsh had a good sighting of a bald eagle and a rough-legged hawk Jan. 9 at Miller Butte. They were having a spat, and then both took to the air with some amazing acrobatics in the wind. The first female house sparrow seen in about a year at Susan’s feeder, along with nuthatches, chickadees and a red squirrel. It is fun to watch the squirrel and a magpie trying to figure out how to make off with the entire glob of peanut butter she puts out for the smaller birds.

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