Friday, August 14, 2015

Say What? Oh, a Say's Phoebe at Pecos National Historical Park

The flycatcher family has to be a favorite with beginning birdwatchers. It probably has to do with their habit of perching over and over on the same post or branch waiting for bug to come by. They swoop out, capture their bug, and perch again. That makes them a lot easier to photograph!
That's what made these Say's Phoebes (Sayornis saya) a little bit unusual. They weren't really chasing bugs. They had already caught their bugs and just seemed to be waiting around. We were at Pecos National Historical Park on our recent field studies trip to New Mexico. They were hanging out around the entry doors for the visitor center for some reason.
Pecos was one of the most important of the New Mexico pueblos hundreds of years ago, standing as it did at a pass between the Great Plains and the Rio Grande River valley. It was a center of trade, and a strategic target. It was even a battlefield during the Civil War. The battle at Glorietta Pass was fought more or less to a draw until the Union forces were able to burn the supply wagons of the Confederate troops. The Southerners were forced to retreat back to Texas, and New Mexico remained under the control of the United States.
In any case, the pair of Phoebes kept lurking by the door, and someone finally pointed out to me the reason.
Doesn't this one seem to be saying "Duh, isn't it obvious?" (but I never anthropomorphize birds...)?
They had a nest on top of the light fixture near the entrance! Once people were inside, the birds would swoop in and feed their very young nestlings (I took this shot from a fair distance away with a zoom, in case you were wondering).

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