Monday, February 11, 2013

Lifer and Year Birds

The last life bird for me occurred at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in November 2010, a Crimson-collared Grosbeak (Rhodothraupis celaeno). If I remember correctly it had a beautiful, ethereal, bell-like quality song/call emitting from a dense stand of thorn scrub. Very fortunate to list; my good fortune kicked in again on Sunday afternoon in the northwest corner of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. Near a couple of hundred of American Coot and lesser concentrations of other diving waterfowl species was a Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii), 9th record for the state. It took several minutes to find this bird. Conditions were very favorable: sun behind the back, calm 'seas' and a excellent elevated viewing site above the lakeshore. The Yellow-bill was much lighter in coloration compared to a nearby Common Loon (Gavia immer); it was sandy colored much like a Prairie Falcon. The bill was very large and so was the neck. Here's what it looked like:
Light speck to the right of the island...Y-B Loon :-)
Yes, it was so far out that I could not capture even a pixelated image. Not so with a Year bird observed today (photo below) at a Stevensville feeder...White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). This was my third try for this bird...many thanks to Judy & Bob Hoy for being so kind in letting me feeder watch from their home. A week earlier, I listed a Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) also coming to the Hoy feeders (bottom photo). Having a really good time this year birding...87 species for the year with a life list of 640. Wishing you great finds in your birding ventures!
White-throated Sparrow

Spotted Towhee