During the last couple of days, I’ve logged several more ‘Firsts’ in the birding department. First birds period…first time I’ve ever really seen them at all and firsts for my ‘Yard Bird’ list (it's a birder-thing...track all the birds you can see in (or from) your own yard.) For one, I finally saw a Black-headed Grosbeak here. Unfortunately, the first few pictures were through glass and of a puffy, sick-looking bird. Finally, a beautiful, health male showed up and let me photograph him through an open door. That makes three [species] Grosbeaks that I’ve found in my yard…apparently there are three more. Oh, and the Evening Grosbeaks seem to be visiting again...
This afternoon, I observed the male Hummingbird again, but didn’t get pictures. I did, however, get one of a female. A friend says it is likely a Broad-tailed Hummingbird, though the male I’ve watched seems to be the tiniest thing I’ve ever seen…I just assumed it is a Ruby-throated Hummingbird; but have since heard it is unlikely I'd see one here. The suggestion is it might be a Black-chinned Hummingbird. Based on size alone…I might guess the thing is a Calliope, but truth be told, I’m not at all sure I’d be able to tell the difference in a Calliope, a Broad-tailed, a Black-chinned or a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. [Addendum: it is not likely to find a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in this part of the country...though it has happened.] Later in the day, I discovered a female hummer trapped in my garage…beating herself silly at a window. It took several tries, but I finally caught her in a fish-net; poor thing was trying to bite the broom I tried first. When I finally caught her, she made a high-pitched call which drew in a male who hovered in my face for several minutes. At that time his neck looked purple, rather than red. Sheeshhhhh, how does one learn to tell colors that change in the light? Since I had feeders handy, I tried to get the little female to take some sugar-water before I let her go…I am not used to handling such tiny birds and sure do hope I didn’t hurt her when I caught her. While she wouldn’t drink, she seemed to fly just fine; fast and away. Part of me wished I’d had the nerve to more thoroughly examine her. BirdChick is my inspiration.
The other day I got a nice photo of the Turkey Vultures in the tree in my front yard. I understand such a gathering is called a wake of vultures; too funny! Hopefully I won’t have the issues some people have had with Vultures, but I will say, I’ve never seen them sitting on a car, much less pulling rubber pieces off of one.
Just as I was finishing up a late lunch, I noticed a blue dot at a feeder and grabbed my binoculars. It was a small bird, long though, and it flew when I moved too quickly. Patience prevailed though, I found the tree it flew to and got a photo through a screened window…enough for a friend to tell me what I was seeing. The bird has a blue head, an orange breast and a creamy belly…and a beak more like a seed-cracking Finch than a bug-eating Bluebird. At first I wondered if it was a Grosbeak, but it was so tiny; only a bit over 5” or so…about the same size as the Pine Siskins sharing the feeder. I had no idea what it could be. I looked all through a field guide, but couldn’t discover it. It had very dark eyes and finally I noticed the bars on the wings. I don’t even know how to pronounce this bird’s name, but it’s a Lazuli Bunting; I’m not at all familiar with Buntings. Thanks again, Gary.