Rocking Vegas

Getting my exercise in alternative ways today. Seems Old Man Winter has decided the Midwest needed a serious coating of white. Snow has been coming down in our area since 9pm last night and not planned to let up until 2am tomorrow. Good for our wells, but not for the body. Finally got my back functioning again and was hoping to take an easier trajectory to the daily workouts. So far everything is holding together – did a mid-shovel this morning to get the pavements cleared, but will probably be heading out soon to clear off the 4 hours of new powder that has been dropped and break out the tractor to clear the 300′ of driveway.

In the meantime, thought I’d recall warmer times in the Mojave Desert.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Feel bad for bringing you another fairly dull colored bird, but the desert birds tend to inherit the hues of their surroundings. Nonetheless, this little bird represents the second +1 for the young year. Those that happen to be familiar with our feathered friends will probably recognize it as part of the Wren family. Although unable to bring this element to bear, the chatter these hyperactive birds emit is also a dead giveaway. All that is left to do is identify which type it is.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Hit the jump to find out what this new bird is!

First course of business is to provide the region. On the Thanksgiving trip to Vegas we spent the second day exploring Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. We prefer to stay out at the Red Rock Casino Resort whenever we wander out to Sin City – we’ve seen all the sites and can do without the congestion on the strip. Some friends of ours were arriving a couple of days later so we did switch hotels to help show them around for their first time in the area. One of the advantages of staying at the Red Rock location is the 5 minute drive to the conservation area which we made on our second day.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Last time I stuffed a Wren in the tin from this area it was of the Bewick variety (Ron just informed me that the proper pronunciation is more in tune with Buick than my original guess of Baywick). Pronounced white eyebrow, brown palette, somewhat buffy breast led me to incorrectly assume this was another Bewick. While working up the images for the blog, noticed the strong speckled pattern on the back. Did not think that was a feature sported by the Buick.. I mean Bewick’s. To the reference books.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Nope, the Bewick’s has a fairly plain back. Did some digging and located another Wren with very similar traits. It also has the eyebrow, but not as pronounced as the Bewick’s and sure enough, had the more speckled back. This was a much better match to my images. Closer inspection on the new match confirmed this was a Rock Wren. A final check of the region put the bow on the ID… well, after a final validation from Ron confirming the +1.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Ended up having two encounters with this new bird. The first was at a pull-off just past their visitor center. Being the holiday, the conservation area was pretty full of people – not good conditions when you are there to take photographs of birds. Having been here several times before, we were able to forego the standard landscape sightseeing and keep our focus on feathers. This led us to the other side of the street, the opposite of the red rock cliffs that everyone was busy taking pictures of. A quick scan of the desert ground didn’t reveal any Burrowing Owls – drats (top 5 on my current to-get list). Next up, look for anything that moves.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

About a dozen House Finches were busy playing in the sun. I can get those at home, no need to waste a lot of memory on those – get a few shots just in case there is a regional characteristic and then start scanning for additional targets. That’s when this Rock Wren popped up. Now that is definitely more exciting (even if I thought it was the Bewick’s which I already had (link here). You can definitely see the more distinctive eyebrow line and the cleaner breast from that previous post. A couple hundred snaps and we headed back to the crowded parking lot and then out to explore more of the park.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Our other encounter was on the way out of the park. We had traversed the main loop of the park and was heading back to the casino when we saw the Red Rock Canyon Overlook pull off. This looked like it had a good view of the flats to give one final check for any Burrowing Owls (never pass up an opportunity to get a top five in the tin). Struck out – no Burrowing Owls, but did park next to a sweet looking yellow Lamborghini – best part is you do not have to worry about them dinging your doors.

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

While leaning against the wall waiting for Linda to come back, noticed another Rock Wren scurrying about the underbrush. Found a path out into the flats and used up some more memory. I was able to get much closer than the previous setting – and not worry about getting ran over. This is the point where misidentifying this Wren probably cost me … and therefore you, the chance to see why these Wrens were given the Rock name. Although it obviously likes to “stand” on rocks per the numerous poses here, but this is not likely the origin of the name. According to Cornell’s site, the Rock Wren places small rocks in a pathway leading to their nests. Had I known about that, I would have hunted around or followed the specimen in hopes of spotting this walkway to their rock crevice nests. Will get that behavioral element the next time we head out there – promise!

Rock Wren located at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas NV,k November 2018

Linda has just informed me the dogs are refusing to go out until I shovel them their own pathway. Apparently they haven’t heard of Snow Angels. I just check outside – holy crap, it’s time to book a flight to Vegas.

7 thoughts on “Rocking Vegas”

    1. Yep, when I compared it against the Bewick’s I already had you could really tell the speckled back, the lighter eye line and the streaked breast which are indicative of the Rock over the Bewick’s. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nice pictures! And from a variety of angles (except flying). Apparently the path to its nest can be things other than small pebbles:

    Often marked by “paving” of small stones, sometimes with bones and other debris, laid out on ground in front of the entrance to the cranny where the nest is located.

    Congratulations on a new +1 to your bird list! I drew a little picture of one for you: http://www.darvillsrareprints.com/images/images/Audubon/rock-wren.jpg

    Ron

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Whoa, now this is a surprise. Based on my inbox, you’ve been catching up on my posts! Actually, I do have a picture of it flying, but it turned out a bit soft – pretty much like all my motion shots with that rented Tamron 150-600mm – not happy about that at all. However, screw the glass, I didn’t know you could just draw them for me hehehehe. Welcome back.

      Like

    1. Thanks Brian! Definitely plenty of light – shadows give away we were taking on the desert during the supposed heat of the day. Luckily we brought the Midwest weather out there with us – think it was in the mid-40s most of the day. Locals politely asked us to leave the state so they could get back to their warmer weather. Appreciate you dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s