Kevin J. Cook Kevin@WildlifeWindow.com
The Naturalist’s Calendar
November — 2009
Sunday 1 — Saturday 7
As autumn matures, shedding its summer attributes and donning its winter character, cold fronts deliver more and more birds from the north.
Loons aggregate in autumn migration much more than during spring migration; and more years than not, the first two weeks of November provide the best loon-finding opportunity in Colorado. All five of the world’s loon species have been found in Colorado; and in decreasing order their relative abundance would be:
Common Loon, Pacific Loon, Red-throated Loon, Yellow-billed Loon, Arctic Loon.
The loons’ nonbreeding plumages of winter pose two of the great identification challenges of the season. Distinguishing Yellow-billed Loon from the far more abundant Common Loon and Arctic Loon from the far more abundant Pacific Loon is a test of patience, knowledge, skill, and optics quality.
Sunday 8 — Saturday 14
Despite occasional snow and cold, generally mild weather will prevent reservoirs on the plains from freezing over. For waterbirds, open water will provide both cover from terrestrial predators and access to food, which in concert will diminish some birds’ urge to continue migrating. Watch for loons and grebes to loiter for awhile.
Sunday 15 — Saturday 21
This is the middle of quiet season for owls. You may or may not see them, but you probably will not hear them. An individual may screech, yowl, or hoot now and then; but the calling characteristic of the owls will not resume as a nightly routine for another month to six weeks.
Sunday 22 — Monday 30
Check the aggregations of geese in fields where they can often be seen more clearly and at closer range than when they are on reservoirs. Diligent searching, one goose at a time, could yield six species: Brant, Cackling, Canada, Greater White-fronted, Ross’s, and Snow.
Keep checking local cattail marshes with adjoining open-water expanses the size of football fields. Such areas are more likely to attract swans than will large reservoirs with no associated cattail marsh. Depending on open-water extent and availability of food, migrant swans may stay for days, weeks, or months.
Full Moon — Mon 2
Third Quarter — Mon 16
New Moon — Mon 16
First Quarter — Tue 24