First People’s Buffalo Jump – June 26, 2021
We had 5 people on different parts of our field trip to First People’s Buffalo Jump on June 26th. It was sunny and got warm quickly. We started at the lower prairie dog town on Ulm-Vaughn Road. Western Meadowlarks were calling here and there. Horned Larks were also flitting about. We took the established walking trail through the prairie dog town pausing frequently to scan for Burrowing Owls. First up was a pair of Long-billed Curlew. They circled us, calling and complaining. Did they have some young hidden nearby? With that thought in mind we didn’t linger too long. The frequent scanning paid off – ONE Burrowing Owl was spotted near a prairie dog hole on the far side of the colony. A spotting scope was very helpful in locating the small bird. We looped around uphill hearing the frequent calls of Vesper Sparrows. As we neared the top we heard the unmistakable call of a Red-tailed Hawk. It wasn’t long before we spotted it on the cliff face. It soon took to the air. We wondered if there was a nest in the cliffs but didn’t see anything obvious. Violet-green Swallows were enjoying the uplift by the cliff face. Spotted Towhees were calling from the bushes, but could we find one? Not yet. A very plain sparrow called from the top of some grass – a Brewer’s Sparrow! We went on to see and hear several more. The Red-tailed Hawk had a mate because soon we had a different hawk soaring overhead. As we finished this part of the walk a pair of Turkey Vultures skirted the area. We headed up to the upper prairie dog town to walk the loop on the cliff overlooking the jump site. Many Rock Wrens live on this face of the cliffs. We finally spotted a Spotted Towhee and there were more Vesper, grasshopper and Brewer’s Sparrows. A large flock of birds was flying about – Rock Pigeons! A Killdeer, Brown-headed Cowbird, Grackle, American Robin and Black-billed Magpie rounded out the bird list. It was sunny and getting hot. We called it quits at 11 am satisfied with the challenges and rewards of grassland birding that morning (at least for the author).