Monday, February 16, 2009

Red, white and blue in February

You don't really expect that much in the way of bright color in mid-February, but today was the exception.

It started with Andre finding a (presumeably adult or near-adult female) hoary redpoll coming in to his feeders.  This bird is definitely a notch whiter than Tim's bird a few weeks ago.  It seemed to me to be just barely a size larger than the commons it was hanging out with.

Note the stub of a bill, whitish ground color and the very nicely whitening last scapulars:

The bird held its wings closed tightly and I honestly never had a terrific view of the rump end-on, this was my best view of it from the side.   It appears pretty white, I think that the streaking that's visible is pretty lateral.
Here's some views of the undertail coverts.  While on the ground we had to strain to see the very narrow central vein to the final feather.  On its single trip up to a thistle sock (when it landed atop the feeder it drew oohs and aahs it was so white) there's a subtle tint to the central vane of the feathers made invisible on the ground by the bloom of the flank feathers.

The redpoll wasn't the only bird attracted to the feeder set-ups.  A few pine siskins, a female purple finch, a calling red-shouldered hawk, and this very cooperative bluebird (whose initial song fragments my winter-rusted ears recognized as being something different and familiar but didn't click in until I actually saw the bird).

Finally some of the Sarett crew who twitched the redpoll brought news of a new (and fresh) crossbill spot so Tim and I headed over to Shawnee and Cleveland to pick them up for Baroda Twp.  They were pretty quiet, we didn't hear them on our first walk pass the line of conifers.
So, for the day I tallied a handful of Oronoko Twp birds, scored my best piccies of bluebird and WW crossbills, and saw my 4th-(give or take)-ever Hoary Redpoll.  Not bad for mid-February.

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