December Bird Quiz

12 Katoomba-NSW-Australia_LAH_5599

Now that you’ve made it to the end of the year, it’s time for a challenge. By now you should realize that all the quiz birds this year were females. Most females lack bright colors, but I couldn’t resist the Christmas colors on this gorgeous lady.

She was was photographed in Australia in October. What species is she? (It’s a bit of a sexist name, actually.)

The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

 

They Leave…

Violet-green Swallow, a summer visitor to my yard.

“To all of you who, like me, have become bird watchers during these months of sheltering in place, I’ve got some bad news: They leave.”

The article in the Democrat & Chronicle, a Rochester NY newspaper, continued with author and new birder Jim Memmott complaining that he has “fed them, adored them, and photographed them endlessly” only to have his backyard birds migrate. As he explains, he’s dealing with abandonment issues.

I highly recommend the article—it made me smile as I identified with his disappointment over the disappearance of so many birds, at least for the winter.

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Haystack Rock

I really wanted to see the puffins.

Haystack Rock, in Cannon Beach, Oregon, is well-known as a nesting site for the Tufted Puffin. According to eBird, the puffins are in residence from late spring through mid-August. I’ve been there many times, but always in the winter months when the birds were feeding out to sea. Now we were finally going to be there on a summer day—August 23. That was cutting it awfully close, but the trip involved too many scheduled meetings and couldn’t be moved. I’d just have to wait and hope for the best.

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A Not-So-Common Black Hawk

Sometimes you can wait for hours, poke into thorny bushes, hike through snake-infested fields, get tired and dusty, become overheated or risk frostbite—and never find the rare bird you’ve come to see. And other times, you park the car, climb out, look for the crowd with binoculars and floppy hats, and know you’ve hit the jackpot. On Saturday, my friend and I were blessed to not only see the rarity, but to get up close and personal.

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Fall Frustrations

While some species are easy to identify, many birds present challenges. Look-alike species such as scaups (below), sandpipers, gulls, and the notoriously difficult Empidonax flycatchers, are enough to keep birders working to improve their skills for years to come.

But as if that wasn’t hard enough, just as we begin to feel confident, fall arrives. Birds are migrating, males become drab and the world is flooded with a new crop of immature birds. It makes me feel like a beginner birder, all over again!

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