Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snowy Sunday brings Visitors

As is often the case here at FF, a snowy day means a great chance for bird watching. The feathered host was busy at the feeders early; scores of red-wings, the regular finches and juncos, a very busy place. When suddenly the view is reduced to nothing but magpies, expect to find a winged hunter somewhere about. Looking west, I was rewarded with a glimpse of the (or one of the) local Sharp-shinned Hawk. (This photo, however, is from a couple weeks ago.)

Today brought two unusual guests among the exceptionally diverse* hordes. The Husband called me to the window to figure out a cryptic visitor. Clearly a Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, but where were her companions? The only other visit we've recorded from these was a huge flock that descended from the sky during another white-out storm many years ago.

While we watched her, a female Evening Grosbeak , also solitary, dropped in again. It's only been three weeks since they last showed up, for the second time in as many decades. Kinda makes you wonder what's going on out there.

This little Rosy girl, or perhaps an immature male?, stuffed her beak with sunflower seeds as fast as she could pick them up! Hungry, a bit? When he saw this photo, Husband said, "what's wrong with her beak?" That's not beak, it's a sunflower seed in the middle... She was gulping them as fast as she could.

I'm not one to look a gift bird in the beak, though. I even managed, briefly, to catch them both in the same frame while they perched in the ash tree, though you have to use your imagination, or trust me on the ID.

More and better images of Rosy Finches, also more diagnostic, here at Google Images, as we clearly have a problem with backlighting, especially when there's snow.

*Husband also glimpsed ALL THREE Jays, Eastern, Scrub, and Steller's, in one quick view this afternoon, but the best I've done today is two.

Gray-crowned Rosy Finch: Leucosticte tephrocotis

Rockwell & Wetmore:
Flying about over the rock slides we see some plump brownish birds, with black, pink-tipped wings and tail - leucostictes, or rosy finch. Found in summer only above timberline and in winter seldom descending below 8,000 feet elevation. Four species occur in Colorado, one of which, the brown capped leucosticte, is not known outside of the state boundaries. The nest and eggs were unknown to science until a few years ago.
—from Denver Municipal Facts, Vol. 2, No. 3, March 1919

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