Most of our Winter guests have arrived. This morning I (finally) found a golden-crowned sparrow. Yesterday I was sure I heard one, a high-pitched eerie call similar to its relative, the abundant white-crowned sparrow. The golden-crowned call includes a long coda of a single repeated note. These birds seem to prefer trashy, weedy habitats and often hang out with white-crowneds. Why haven’t they found my yard?
I’ve seen gray-headed juncos in my yard several times this year and last. Today I found 3 in the yard next to the Baptist church. According to Sibley’s map, they are rare in this area.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets are now very common. They get their name from a bright red crown patch that they display when they’re pissed-off, which happen a lot. Their usual call is a soft chattering, similar to a hooded oriole. This is a tiny bird. The bird’s bill tells us that it eats bugs, like a warbler.
The Lincoln’s sparrow is another bird that has recently appeared at the swamp and at the west end of town adjacent to the old ag fields. It is related and quite similar to the rare swamp sparrow. The obvious difference is that the markings along the breast on the Lincoln’s are crisp whereas the marking on the same area of the swamp are blurry. I expect to find a swamp sparrow any time now. Last year Gary Nunn found one at the swamp and another showed up at the lake. I forgot who found the second bird.
Lastly, a cool flicker. This one is a male. Note the red malar. Also note the faint red chevron on the bird’s nape. This is evidence that he has a bit of yellow-shafted in his family history. Mostly red-shafted heritage however. A full-blooded yellow shafted male has a black malar, bright red nape chevron and yellow on the underside of his wing and tail feathers.
My pyracanthas are heavy with bright red berries which are raided constantly by American robins, flickers, cedar waxwings, white-crowned sparrows, one northern mockingbird, an occasional black phoebe and ravenous European starlings.