Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hello, Baby

Never, in all my twenty-plus years of watching birds in the wild and in my backyard, have I ever seen an evening Grosbeak. Two weeks ago, while surfing the confines of S.B.'s recliner, half watching Rory Mcilroy fall apart in the final rounds of the Master's, half eyeballing the goings on at Snow White's Freakin' Wilderness Sanctuary, I saw two of them, a large male and his mate, him outfitted in neon yellow, gray and white, she slightly smaller and a tad less colorful. They were only here long enough to have quick sip from the birdbath before flitting away in a flash of color. I didn't even have time to grab my camera.

Moments ago, I saw them again. And again, no time for the camera.

Still, it was a lucky ducky sighting, because these fellas are not only rare, but rapidly declining in numbers. According to a FeederWatch report, their sightings over all have dropped by fifty percent between 1988 and 2006. At sites where they are still reported, average flock size has decreased by 27 percent. No one knows why.

I'm glad I got to see them at least once, make that twice, in my life. Hopefully, more.

Come back, birdies, come back!

If you watch birds, what's the rarest species you've ever seen?


chickory said...

great riches you lucky duck!

i saw a whole flock of cedar waxwings strip a tree next door of its seed pods. they arent rare -but that was for me.

I guess my rarest bird was an indigo bunting.

I see those giant pilated woodpeckers all the time and believe once it was an ivory bill although they say they are extinct. still...it was huge. the bill was white...

Buzz Kill said...

That thing is pretty cool looking. I've never seen one like it. We have Goldfinch (our state bird) but I've only seen them a few times and they're much smaller. We even keep a book (Birds of NJ - or something like that) by the birdfeeder window just in case.

Just the other day, The Pudge and I were out on the deck and we could hear a woodpecker way up in a tree. I got the binoculars out and all we could see was the bird's red head, so I'm pretty sure it was a Red Headed Woodpecker. Check out the site where I got the picture called - Birds From Behind. It's a sick world out there.

Anonymous said...

Adult Florida Burrowing Owl
(Athene cunicularia floridana)

You've probably seen, and Ivan's probably eaten, their more common cousins judging from the map.

But the "floridana" sub-species is quite rare. Just two large protected colonies at Marco Island and Cape Coral. And a smattering of tiny populations in Florida and some Caribbean isles.

Mine probably escaped from the Marco Island preserve.

Bretthead said...

The bird I most often see is somebody's middle finger.

moi said...

Chickory: Cedar Waxwings are so pretty—they look like little bandits. Indigo Buntings supposedly have NM on their migratory summer routes, but I've never seen one. Boo. Oh, and I think an ivory bill was recently spotted in South Louisiana, so you could have had a bone fide sighting, too.

Buzz: Very cool site! We have a good half dozen woodpecker species out here and they're kind of doltish. One insists on trying to peck through an aluminum grate on the outside of our house; another one likes to try and drink from the hummer feeders.

Troll: Aw, I love me some owls, but the only one I've ever seen are the big horned hoot owls that hang out in the pines out here. Oh, and once during a trip to southern Utah, I stepped outside my hotel room to watch the sun set, during which time a flock of owls started emerging from their roosts on top of the hotel, swooping down to snag the bunnines that had come out on the grass to eat. Horrifying but also very cool. Thankfully, Ivan is 100 percent uninterested in birds. Maddie, on the other hand, has displayed a cat-like interest in them so I have to really get on her.

WTWA: That might stop if you quit taking pictures of people's butt cracks.

Glen Gailey said...

That's a pretty little bird. The most exotic we get are blue jays, which I love finding their feathers. What an amazing color of blue. Seagulls are the pigeons of the PNW and not very rare or pretty.

Do you put food out for your birds?

Glen Gailey said...

we have bats at night, does that count?

moi said...

Boxer: You betcha. Next to the shoe fund, the bird food/sugar for hummers in summer is my largest expenditure. But they make for such a nice freakin' wilderness sanctuary, I'd feel horrible sending them to the neighbor's. Sea gulls freak me out, BTW. They're crafty, like the mob.

Pam said...

Beautiful! And his coloring is very "in" at the moment -- that gray and yellow combo is rising in popularity at the fabric stores. I know because I have been frequenting fabric stores lately. But that is another story for another day.

My most unusual bird sighting? In England, we had Babygirl and her hubby with us, driving to see the Cerne Abbas Giant, zooming down the wrong side of the road, as you do in England when someone-who-shall-remain-nameless is driving the backroads, son-in-law on the verge of car sick, road narrows and darkens with the shade of over-hanging trees, when OUT OF NOWHERE drops down a huge owl with feet/talons extended, like he was going for a mouse or something, but it appeared he was coming for our car. I think he was bigger than our car that trip.

Or, on a drive across northern OK, between Pawhuska (Pioneer Woman territory) and Ponca City (where the REAL Pioneer Woman statue is located) ... we saw a Bald Eagle in full flight. One of those times when, even though you have never seen one, you know exactly what it is the moment you lay eyes on it.

Both amazing birds and fun memories.

chickory said...

I forgot about that little gray falcon that ate Red. Until then, I had never seen one. I see owls often, not sure which ones but not barn owls who have to coolest faces ever.

Hummers! Ive got a ton of them. ours are ruby throated. yours?

send me Justified!

moi said...

Pam: Great story! I only like zipping around narrow, fern roads if I'm the one driving :o) My first bald eagle sighting was on the Missouri River in Montana about six years ago. You're right; you know exactly what it is when you see it and although its image is ubiquitous in our media, it's still quite the moment to spot one for real.

Chickory: Cool. I'll send Justified in a few. As for hummers, we get three species: the broad tailed (they're the ones that make that high trilling sound and they have ruby throats), the black-chinned, and the Rufous, who arrive mid summer to make everyone's life hell. Very territorial and combatitive, bright orange and green. Did you know that high dive and swoope thing they do is a courtship display? Show offs. They usually arrive at my feeder mid to end April. No one's showed yet, though, and I'm getting a little worried.

Glen Gailey said...

Sitting on the front porch on the Island last Friday a humming bird came within a foot of me. I think we were both startled. But OH! they are my favorite bird. This guy was yellow?

Buzz Kill said...


When we were in Germany a few years ago, we saw one of these bad boys. It was flying around a flower box on the outside patio and I was able to get within 2 feet of it. Freaky how fast those wings flap. It is, in fact, an insect but at the time, we just weren't sure.

moi said...

Boxer: Hmmm . . . Anna's maybe? And, yes, they are a rather insistent little birdie.

Buzz: Hummingbird moths are very cool. First time I saw one was in Belize. We have them here, too. I think they primarily come out at dusk?

fishy said...

My favorite bird story is waking up one Easter morning to find our entire front yard covered by a massive flock of Red Breasted Robins.

Yesterday I saw an Eastern Bluebird.
We put out houses for them each year of the correct size, aperature and North facing but they don't come. What we do have in abundance is Cardinals. Lots of them. Might be the reason the Bluebirds don't nest here.

Bretthead said...

That is like telling me to stop blinking.

moi said...

Fishy: Cardinals don't live here (boo), but we have tons of Western Bluebirds (same species as your Eastern, but built for the west) and Robins. I love the Robin's elaborate, trilling song, too.

WTWA: No, you must be free to be the special snowflake that is you. And to put together a coffee table book entitled: Buttcracks by Brett: An Urban Excursion into the Dark Heart of Plumber Pant. Because that is just what the world needs now.

Glen Gailey said...

@Buzz - holy smokes, that's a freaky little sucker. I've never seen anything like it.

LaDivaCucina said...

Wow, how cool! I love when I see birds like that, then of course have to look them up to find out what I actually saw.

Lived in a lot of great places to "bird watch" in my life, including here in Florida. A few years back, I saw the American bald eagle in northern Wisconsin.

And when I was traveling around Australia in the van, saw so many birds I had to buy a bird book. Saw huge flocks of bugerigars and zebra finches in the outback, so many flying in a flock that they looked like locusts. On my trip I saw Frogmouths, Friar birds, catbird, wild black cockatoos, but my fave was the rainbow bee-eater, sitting alone on a twig. I just happened to see the burst of colour in the bush and there he was.

Two separate times I came out to my back yard while living in an inner west suburb of Sydney to find an owl and two sulphur crested cockatoos! Thanks for this, love birdies! x

Bretthead said...

I'd have two bonus sections. Wide Angle Lens and 3D Blast where all the stuff lost in the crack gets blown out with an air hose right at the camera. That one girl would have been the highlight. Pint glasses, condoms, various fruit, confetti, lost farm animals and perhaps even the farmer.

moi said...

La Diva: I can imagine just how colorful the bird life—all life for that matter—must be in Australia. How incredibly lucky you were!

WTWA: Just don't forget us little people on your way up the literary ladder of fame and fortune.