Pete Arnold and I will be doing a book signing Aug. 10 at the Barnes & Noble store in Cheyenne, 1851 Dell Range Blvd. The signing will be 1 – 5 p.m.
At 1:30 p.m. I’ll do a talk, “What Birds Want from Your Backyard” followed by Pete talking about wildlife photography.
You are welcome to bring a book you have already purchased or buy one at the store.
While we’ve had several book signings around town at the different shops that carry our book, this is the first one at a book store. And it’s Barnes & Noble. Back in 1979, before B & N opened stores everywhere, I visited the flagship store in New York City. It was overwhelming. Multiple floors crammed with books on every subject. I wanted to read them all. And now “Cheyenne Birds by the Month” has joined the catalog!
P.S. Books are also available in Cheyenne at the Cheyenne Depot Museum, Wyoming State Museum, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, Cheyenne Pet Clinic, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Riverbend Nursery, Cheyenne Pet Clinic and PBR Printing. And also at the Curt Gowdy State Park visitor center and the University of Wyoming bookstore in Laramie. And online at the UW bookstore, Game and Fish, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Early summer exploded with babies.
In addition to our family adding the first baby of the new generation (do wild
animals relate to their grand-offspring?), I noticed a lot of other baby
Driving past Holliday Park at
twilight at the end of June I caught a glimpse of what looked like three loose
dogs. They were a mother racoon and two young scampering across the lawn.
Walking our dog around the field by
our house I saw a ground squirrel mother herd a youngster out of the street and
back to the safety of the grass. There’s also an explosion of baby rabbits in
that field driving everyone’s dogs crazy.
We have a pair of Swainson’s hawks
nesting in our neighborhood and they are using the field as their grocery store.
I’m not sure exactly where they are nesting, but I’m guessing it is one of the
large spruce trees. Whenever I’m at the field, I catch a glimpse of at least
one hunting. But I also glimpse them from my kitchen window soaring, meaning I
can add them to my eBird.org yard list. The yard list is all the species I’ve
seen from the window or while out in the yard. The Swainson’s have put me at 99
species so far—over about 12 years.
When it warmed up, we spent more time
in our backyard and I noticed other signs of family life. We always have a
raucous community of tree squirrels, one generation indistinguishable from the
next, chasing each other round and round in our big trees.
This year I’ve been hearing a
mountain chickadee sing. No, not the “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” call—that’s their
alarm call—but a sweet three-note song (listen at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/).
I’m also learning the various
phrases American goldfinches use while they spend the summer with us. We’ve
left our nyger thistle seed feeder up for them (no, nyger thistle is not our
noxious weed and it is treated not to sprout). They sometimes come as a group
of four, including two males and two females, and sometimes a younger one.
The downy woodpeckers have been
visiting as well. They go for one of those blocks of seed “glued” together that
you buy at the store. You would think they would go for bugs hiding in the
furrowed bark of the tree trunks. Maybe they do, in addition to the seed block.
The robins have been busy. I
observed a youngster walking through my garden as it tried to imitate the foraging
action of the nearby adult, but it finally resorted to begging to be fed.
Within the space of a couple days I
was contacted about two problem robins attempting to build nests on the tops of
porch lights. Porch lights, because they usually provide a shelf-like surface
under the safety of the roof overhang, are quite popular. But not everyone
trying to use the adjacent door likes getting dive-bombed by the angry robin
In the first situation, Deb, our
former neighbor, said the robin was trying to build a nest on a porch light
with a pyramidal top. The bird could not make her nest stick and all the
materials from all her attempts slid off and accumulated on the porch floor.
Providing another ledge nearby might not have worked for such a determined
bird. Instead, Deb opted for screening off the top of the light. Hopefully Mama
Robin found a better location in Deb’s spruce trees.
Our current neighbor, Dorothy,
texted me the next day, wondering what she and her family were going to do
about being attacked by the robin which had built a nest on her (flat-topped)
front porch light. Maybe avoid walking out the front door and walk out through
the garage instead, I said. I asked her if she had a selfie stick so she could
take pictures of the inside of the nest to show her two young boys.
Down at Lions Park a new colony of
black-crowned night-herons has been established. Listen for them behind the
conservatory. The colony at Holliday Park is still going strong.
In the far corner of Curt Gowdy
State Park, I caught a glimpse of a bird family I hadn’t seen together before.
Way up on the nasty El Alto trail, I saw a brown songbird I couldn’t identify
readily. And then the parent came to feed it, a western tanager. The youngster
has a long way to go before attaining either the look of its mother, if female,
or if male, the bright yellow body with black and white wings and the orange
head like its father.
Published June 23, 2019, “Cheyenne Big Day birders count 112 bird species.”
No two Cheyenne Big Day Bird Counts at
the height of spring migration have the exact same weather, people or bird list
which is why it is so exciting to see what happens.
This year, on May 18, we had decent
weather. Last year we rescheduled because of a snowstorm—almost to be expected
in mid-May lately. However, by afternoon we had a couple showers of
“graupel”—soft hail or snow pellets.
One of our best local birders, Greg
Johnson, stayed home sick. Instead, we were joined by two excellent birders
from out of town. Zach Hutchinson is the Audubon Rockies community naturalist
in Casper. Part of his job is running five bird banding stations. In handling
so many birds, he’s learned obscure field marks on species we don’t see often.
If you shoot a bird with a digital camera, you can examine the photo closely
The other visiting birder was E.J. Raynor.
He came up from Ft. Collins, Colorado, because he was our designated chaperone
for birding the High Plains Grasslands Research Station. The south side of the
station is now designated as the High Plains Arboretum and open to the public,
but the area behind the houses is not. Normally we put in for a permit and this
year we got E.J. instead.
He works for the Agricultural
Research Service which operates the station. I thought he might be bored
walking around with us, but his recent PhD is in ornithology so I convinced him
he should join us for as much of the day as possible, especially for the
Wyoming Hereford Ranch part. People from all over the world visit it—including
a Massachusetts tour guide and his 14 British birders a week before.
WHR put on a good show and E.J. and
Zach were able to identify a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, an eastern bird,
which is nearly identical to a female black-headed grosbeak, a western bird.
We didn’t get out to the station
until early afternoon and then got graupeled and didn’t find a lot of birds so
I’m glad E.J. came early.
Counting as a group started at 6:30
a.m. at Lions Park. Surprisingly, we had people up at that hour who are new to
birding. We hope they will join us again. I never get tired of seeing beginners
get excited about birds.
By dusk, after Mark and I checked
some of our favorite birding spots, the total bird list for the day looked like
it might be about 90 species. But the next day we held a tally party at a local
restaurant and the contributions of all 25 participants, including those who
birded on their own, brought the total up to 112. Dennis Saville, birded Little
America, Chuck Seniawski birded F.E. Warren Air Force Base and Grant Frost covered
some of the outer areas.
Now that most birders in Cheyenne
use the global database eBird.org every day to document their sightings, the
picture of spring migration is even more interesting than the single Big Day held
each of the last 60 years. Migration ebbs and flows. Maybe we need to declare a
Big Month and go birding every day in May.