Saturday, November 28, 2015

Leucistic Bird Hanging Around

A couple of posts ago I asked for opinions on a bird coming to my backyard feeder here in Minnesota. The majority of opinions were that I was being visited by an aberrant House Finch.

Well it's still around and I got a better look at it.

Even though the photo was taken through a window screen this is about as well as I have seen it. The primaries and wing coverts are actually lighter than the rest of the bird. The eye is dark. I still think this a House Finch, though a couple of people suggested an escaped canary.

So the question today is not about species (unless someone has a better ID), the question is about the mechanism of the strange feather color. I assume something genetic but not albinism. Whatever the cause it seems the bird is in good health, has been present for a while and doesn't seem to mind the snow.

Pretty fun having this bird around. Now if I could just coax that Lewis' Woodpecker in Wisconsin over to my suet feeder...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What is going on in the Southeast?

   Checking radar tonight just to see when the big storm coming out of the Rockies is going to hit Minnesota, I noticed a huge blob of color in the southeast.
 This looks like a lot of migration movement in a relatively concentrated area of the country. With all the strange birds showing up in Minnesota and Wisconsin I wouldn't be surprised to see lots of birds still moving south near the coast.
   Might be worth a look around in the backyards of the Gulf Coast States.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Strange Bird at the Feeder

   It always pays to take a peek at the feeders in the backyard whenever I have a chance. You never know what might be there and it is really exciting when something you see is obviously unusual.
    Well that happened recently. Below are a series of not great photos of a bird that at first looked like it might be albino but it does show some color in the plumage. It looks like it's an aberrant House Finch but I would love to hear what folks think. Saw it two days but it hasn't been present (at least when I was looking) for several days now.
 This, unfortunately, might be the best photo of the three posted. The next two give a little different angle of the bird.
Of course the other possibility is an escaped cage bird but I'm not going there.
All thoughts are appreciated.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Morning Radar

      Checking the morning weather radar for indications of migration, it looks like Nebraska and Iowa are the big winners today. Strong returns indicate lots of birds landing along a line that goes from around Omaha to Des Moines all the way to Chicago.
     Unfortunately for me, it looks like lots has passed us by here in Minnesota. Last weekend was good for banding later migrants. Sparrows and Hermit Thrushes were most abundant with a few Yellow-rumped Warblers still around. As of today they could be much further south. If you do go out birding check those legs for bands.
    The "best" bird we netted was only the second ever Wood Thrush. Below is a photo of the bird taken by friend and fellow bander Amber.
   Migration days are numbered so get out there.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Update to This Blog

    I was recently contacted about the eBird Recent Sightings gadget on the blog not working. I don't know what is happening but it seems to have disappeared. Drat! I have found what I think is a better gadget called Birdtrax. You can see it installed on the right sidebar. The downside is that it only covers a limited range so may not be useful for the entire state. However, the Rarities tab (middle top) does seem to have a good format and the same info as the previous gadget.
    I hope visitors find this useful and if you have any comments please let me know.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Couple More Kingbird Pictures

Peter Pyle sent a note about molt in the Tropical Kingbirds being seen in Ontario and Minnesota. I do have a couple of photos (not the best quality) of the Minnesota bird preening.
 I had to enlarge a distant shot for these but it does give a little better  look at the wing. Not sure if this helps the discussion.
If the bird stays around the opportunity to get better pictures is there. I'm sure there will be updates every day.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Minnesota's First Tropical Kingbird

      I love when a rare bird shows up close to where I live because, in general, I don't spend a lot of effort in chasing rarities. However, when a great find occurs in a place I bird anyway it is easy to chase. This morning I chased the first occurrence of a Tropical Kingbird in Minnesota at Murphy-Hanrahan Park south of Minneapolis in Scott County. There is a previous bird up north that was determined to be a Tropical/Couch's Kingbird but never was identified as  to species. This bird was heard to vocalize and clinched it's ID as Tropical Kingbird.
     These photos were taken at a relatively close distance and I have enlarged them to show a bit more detail. Fortunately we were able to see the bird in the top of a dead sapling and got great views for about 5 minutes.
   Several of us watched as the bird flew off the perch and nabbed a meal in the air and then returned
to it's perch.   

   This shot is of the notched tail with a bit of wear (not easy to see in photo). The bird did not seem to be affected by our presence. It did tend to move around the area quite a bit and there were several Great Crested Flycatchers that were very active in the same vicinity.

    The bird has been present in this location for about a week so I think the chances are good it may hang around for a bit longer. Good bird to chase if you are near the Twin Cities.