Last week I went birding with the Audubon Group and we were treated to a sighting that not only was a new to me bird, but a rare bird to this area too. Lifer number 6 for 2021 is the Pine Grosbeak. This is a female.
This was a “lifer” for about half the group and there were only 9 of us birding that morning. It was quite exciting!
Pine Grosbeaks eat a lot of plants, but it can be tough for their nestlings to eat and digest all that vegetation. Instead of feeding plants directly to their nestlings, they regurgitate a paste of insects and vegetable matter that they store in pouches at the lower part of their jaw on either side of their tongues.
Not all Pine Grosbeaks are the same. Not only do they differ in the amount and intensity of red across their range, they are also different sizes. Body size and wing and tail length generally increase from Newfoundland westward to the Yukon Territory. But birds on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Island) in British Columbia, Canada, and in California are among the smallest of all Pine Grosbeaks. Wings and tails of birds on Haida Gwaii are around a half inch smaller than birds in Alaska.
Pine Grosbeaks aren’t just in North America. They also breed in subalpine evergreen forests from eastern Asia to Scandinavia.
The tameness and slow-moving behavior of the Pine Grosbeak prompted locals in Newfoundland to affectionately call it a “mope.”
Winter flocks may stay near a tree with abundant fruit until all of it is consumed.
The oldest recorded Pine Grosbeak was a male, and at least 9 years, 9 months old when he was found in Quebec in 1970. He was first captured and banded in Connecticut in 1961.
Continuing on with the newest “lifers” that I’ve picked up this year I present Lifer N° 2 for 2021…the Warbling Vireo.
I confess I would have missed this bird had I not been out with a local birding group. The leader for that day’s outing recognized its song, and I started peering into the foliage and spotted something flitting around. Hoping for it come out in the open for peek I waited, and waited. Finally a brief look!!
Then just as quickly it flew to another bush behind a branch and began singing its morning song.
These are the only decent images I was able to get of it, but I’m happy to have them!
They have a large range in the United States, but breed here in the Summer months.
Since this little one is singing in the last image I thought I’d try to add a sound file so you can hear one of its songs. Nuts! The link didn’t embed the sound file.
Clicking the link will open a new window with the recording of the Western Warbling Vireo
Warbling Vireos have a good name—the males sing a fast, up-and-down, rollicking song that suits the word “warbling.” The early twentieth century ornithologist William Dawson described the song this way: “fresh as apples and as sweet as apple blossoms comes that dear, homely song from the willows.” The highly variable song usually ends on a high note, leading the birder Pete Dunne to describe it as sounding “like a happy drunk making a conversational point at a party.”
Across their wide range, Warbling Vireos differ from one population to another in several characteristics, including overall size, bill shape, plumage coloring, molt patterns, wintering areas, and vocalizations. The differences are significant enough to lead ornithologists to recognize six separate subspecies of Warbling Vireo, and at one time divided them into two species.
Brown-headed Cowbirds frequently deposit their own eggs in the nests of Warbling Vireos. In some instances, the vireo pair incubates the alien egg and raises the young cowbird until it fledges. Female vireos in some eastern populations, however, tend to puncture and eject interlopers’ eggs.
Researchers speculate that Warbling Vireo song is at least partially learned rather than hard-wired. They base this supposition in part on observations of one individual whose song more closely resembled that of a Red-eyed Vireo than that of its parents. The garbled song, they concluded, probably resulted from a flawed learning process during the bird’s development.
The longest-lived Warbling Vireo on record—a male that was originally banded in July 1966—was at least 13 years, 1 month old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California.
I hope you enjoyed seeing these Warbling Vireo images today, and I hope your Friday is going well, and you have a lovely week-end and I wish an early Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s in the US!
I’ve been rather slow at telling you about several new to me birds that I’ve seen this year. There have been 5 so far this year.
The first one I saw was back in February. Yeah, I know. I love making the images, going out hiking, birding, etc., but processing the images and writing…not so much.
So, this bird I saw in February really made me do my happy dance… jumping for joy happy dance because I tried to find this bird several times over a couple of years while I lived in San Jose sans success. Just less than two years after moving to Nevada I found not one but a pair!! Here without further ado is the American Dipper.
They were gathering nesting material under an overpass and flying into a hole under it. Lighting conditions weren’t great. They were in the shadow of the bridge making it hard to get a good image of them. I opened up the shadows in post editing.
This next image shows the white eyelid they have that you only see when they blink.
Finally, I got lucky and one flew out into the sunlight!
A few weeks ago while He-Man was riding his bike I was birding and while driving out in the ranches I spied two Adult Bald Eagles just hanging out next to each other on telephone poles. I hung around for quite awhile hoping they’d fly, but they were content to continue surveying the land so I moved on. Here’s the first one I saw.
Looking not much different is the second one. I think they’re a pair though they were pretty close in size so I’m not positive about that.
Bald Eagles have a reputation of being bandits. They will steal fish from Osprey’s talons in mid air!
The largest Bald Eagle nest on record is in St. Petersburg, FL, which was 2.9 meters in diameter, and 6.1 meters tall. (114.17 X 240.15 inches) HUGE!
Bald Eagles live a long time. The oldest recorded bird in the wild was at least 38 years old when it was hit by a car and killed in New York in 2015. It had been banded in 1977.
I told you I would show you the beautiful Vermilion Flycatcher that I went to see in Maxwell, CA a few week ago, and today is the day! He’s a year round resident of Mexico and South America. He does come north to So. Texas and So. California for breeding season, and has been seen in the states along the gulf coast states. How this one found his way up here in Central Calif. is a mystery, but it’s been returning for 5 winters now. He’s rare there.
Isn’t he pretty?
Fuji X-T3 w/ Fuji 100-400mm lens @400mm
Almost two weeks ago He-Man went up to Washoe Co. the next county over to go on a bike ride and I went with him not to ride, but to bird while he rode and guess who I saw? The White-headed Woodpecker! This is a male. I only saw this species for the first time last year so I still do a happy dance when I see one.
This one was so busy foraging he didn’t care about me too much. Once in awhile he did check me out.
Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm @400mm
Sunday two neighbors and I went for our walk and we decided to go further than the mailbox and go up the hill and come home the back way where we saw Mountain Bluebirds foraging in the Russian Olive trees. The Olives are like little nuts that they seem to really like.
I saw this species for the first time last Spring, but didn’t have my camera with me but, by the time I raced home on foot to get the camera and return to the spot I saw one it was gone. I am so glad I had a camera with me on Sunday! Mountain Bluebird Male–
It’s been a good birdy couple of weeks that has been waylaid by weather. We’ve had snow! I won’t be out birding for a few days.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend, stay healthy, and safe.
He-Man and I spent the last afternoon of 2020 snowshoeing at a lake nearby to stretch our legs.
There were a few other people enjoying the sunny day. Some decided to ice fish on lake. They were just drilling out their hole here when we went by.
The scenery was just lovely. The sky was so blue with nice clouds, and there was not much of a breeze so we warmed up quickly while snowshoeing.
It felt great to get out and stretch our legs. We had a very quiet evening in for New Year’s Eve. I didn’t make it to midnight, and I slept soundly as there were no fireworks, cannon or guns being fired in our neighborhood. We didn’t know what to expect since we’d spent our first New Year’s Eve in our new house not in our house at all, but in London. So, we’ve discovered it was quite different from our old neighborhood where there would have been fireworks, cannon, and shouting, and whooping it up. Did you make it to midnight? Were there noisemakers and celebrations in your neighborhood?
The 1st found me being lazy. I made our traditional good luck dinner, but I did try to recreate the Good Luck meal we had on New Year’s Day in London at Herman ze German’s by adding Brats and German beer to our menu. I hope I ate enough to have good luck all through the year.
The day closed with some lovely color after the sun went down. It was a lovely day and I hope it sets the tone for the upcoming year.
Happy New Year Everyone! I hope we all remain, safe, healthy, and have some fun this year!
As I mentioned last week we were going to be treated to a Lighted Golf Cart Parade in my community by several neighbors that have their own golf carts.
It was a small but festive parade with just 6 golf carts. Myself and my neighbors waited outside in the cold for the parade to get to our end of the street. It was dark by the time they arrived. Here are a few images of the parade.
Here they come!
…and quick as wink they were gone.
It was fun, and I hope they do it again next year!
I hope you’re all enjoying the Holiday lights and spirit of Christmas, and having a good week!