February 12, 2010

Backyard Bird Count Lasts through Monday

Three days are left in the Cornell ornithology lab's Backyard Bird Count.

I have class on Saturday, so I'll pick up on Sunday, which promises nastier weather that might drive more birds our day.

The rules are simple: count the highest number of each species that you see at one time (not a cumulative total). Report them online, and send pictures if you like.

I did see about 20 evening grosbeaks today hanging around, a real treat.

I love their raspy little call, and the yellow-black-white spring plumage of the males, combined with their almost green beak, makes them look nearly tropical.

They show up unpredictably (an "irruption"), hang around, then split for parts unknown.

The Evening Grosbeak is a stocky, heavy-billed finch of northern coniferous forests. An irruptive migrant across much of its range, it makes roughly biannual appearances at winter feeding stations throughout much of the coterminous United States. Often moving in large flocks, this boldly colored bird with the massive bill is difficult for observers to miss. During the breeding season, however, the species is quite secretive, and courtship occurs without elaborate song or display. This secretiveness, together with a spare, flimsy nest placed high in a tree, makes it a difficult subject of study. As a result, comparatively little is known of the species’ life history.
And why is it called the "evening" grosbeak? Is there a mid-morning grosbeak out there someplace? (They are active all day.)

In the 1980s, the Evening Grosbeak was a "fern bar" in Cañon City, Colo. The daily newspaper, where I worked three years, was that rara avis, an afternoon daily, and after it went to press, the editorial staff sometimes adjourned to the Grosbeak to dip our beaks.


jason said...

I've still never seen an evening grosbeak. I'm sure I will eventually. This winter I saw a huge group of rosy-finches flying around which was pretty neat.

Anonymous said...

I've been counting every day. On Friday, I kicked off with a pileated woodpecker!

Reibert said...

nice blog,
keep it up..