Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Always Worth Going Out!

With the weather gradually improving at Cape May (though still very chilly!), cabin fever is kicking in with all of us and the birding community are getting out and checking up on our local birds. Of course, we are spoiled at Cape May with all-round great birding, but even spending time watching the backyard feeders can produce unexpected finds. Unusual weather conditions can produce unexpected bird movements and the last few days have certainly been interesting.

 Don has mentioned the American Tree Sparrows that have been turning up in Cape May and we have been lucky enough to be entertaining one for the last two days at our own feeder (along with five other species of sparrow - six if you count my British conpatriots!).

Amongst the hordes of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds at our feeder today, I found a lone male Rusty Blackbird. I find it easiest to pick these out by the combination of pale eye and small bill rather than looking for any rusty markings, especially if looking against the light.

My final surprise at the feeder today was a colour-marked Northern Cardinal. Some interesting data can be obtained by individually marking birds rather than just using a metal ring and it will be interesting to find out where this bird has come from and what its movements have told the bander - we'll keep you posted!

Cold weather movements of birds often provide us with unexpected sightings and this Horned Lark was no exception. I found it feeding quite happily in the middle of a busy road, at the junction of Stevens Street and Bayshore Road beside the Rea Farm.

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