Monday, November 26, 2007

One and One and One is Three

Got to be good lookin' 'cause he's so hard to see.

OK, OK, I'm no John Lennon. Maybe a Julian, or Sean? Not a Yoko! C'mon! I get the message: less singing, more birdwatching.

Redpolls certainly are nice looking birds, a splashy combination of red, black, white, and yellow. And once they find your feeders, they're not hard to see. To me, they mean winter has arrived (in years when they aren't irrupting, well, it's just never really winter).

We were away for a few days over Thanksgiving, so we stocked the feeders and hoped any "new" birds would stick around to be appropriately recorded once we returned. And it actually worked: among the first birds seen following our return were Common Redpolls!

The first redpoll perches near the tube feeders, apparently
deciding whether to approach and find out what's inside.

A second redpoll eyes the suet, but eventually
opts out, favoring the thistle feeder.

A third redpoll is attracted to the seeds underneath the tube feeders.

Ultimately, they found their way to the source, with some
additional individuals: our high count was seven.

Not only did one and one and one eventually make seven, not three, Common Redpoll is the third winter finch species that found our feeders this season. First, the female Evening Grosbeak that showed up, then the Pine Siskins that settled down for a few days, and now this small group of Common Redpolls.

We have hosted a few other winter species of interest, the most atypical was the Northern Shrike that appeared the same day as the first (non-feeder) siskin. We also have Purple Finches continuing at our feeder, but these aren't as noteworthy as they are typically around. Ditto for the Red-breasted Nuthatches.

That's not to say the Purple Finches and Red-breasteds aren't interesting, they are making their own waves this season. During Thanksgiving in Chincoteague, VA, I found more Red-breasteds this year than any other my near-annual visits there. Even to the most casual observer there are clearly more around this year than in other years. And though I didn't find any in Virginia, Purple Finches are being reported in larger numbers and more frequently in southern areas than usual. More on these two birds in an upcoming post.

All in all, it's already been a very fun year for feederwatching, and we've only had the feeders up for a month! Can't wait to see how the rest of the season plays out; dare I wish for either species of crossbill in our grove of conifers? A visit from a Bohemian Waxwing on the berry bushes or Pine Grosbeaks on the crab apples? A Hoary Redpoll blending in with the Common Redpolls feeding on the birches, or under the feeder? Or some as-of-yet-unnamed rarity?

Or just "the usual suspects"?

The suspense is killing me!

Post title credit: Come Together (1969), The Beatles.


The Zen Birdfeeder said...

The redpolls and siskins are east of us in VT and NH and west of us in Ithaca. Send a few (ok, send BUNCHES) our way!!!

I'd love to see a Northern Shrike!

slybird said...

Nice! I've been having a great time observing the redpolls and other winter finches this winter. I wish I had my own feeders for them to come to so I could just sit and watch them for a while.

~ Nick

mon@rch said...

Love them Redpolls! They just have not allowed me to photograph them yet! Love your stuff!

noflickster said...

I'm sad to report the redpolls (I refrained from calling them "my" redpolls) have moved along, but at least they showed up for my Feederwatch counts. A couple of responses to your comments:

I was playing with some eBird maps and it is interesting to see more tightly-packed reports of redpolls in VT, NH, and central NY. That said, there are a few reports from the Hudson Valley, and a whole lot of non-reports (meaning no checklists at all, not just no redpolls) around there, too. So the maps also reflect where birders are: eBird needs more reports from all over to really show these patterns. I suspect there will be a lot of movement over the next few months of most of the species, so hopefully you'll get bunches of wandering species - including the shrikes. It'll be really interesting to see what's found on the Christmas Bird Counts this year.

Slybird, I find that having your own feeders is a mixed blessing: to afford the property we have requires me to be at work during the daylight hours, so I only get weekends to find out what's been eating the seed and suet all week. :-)

Of course, the Lab has some nice feeding set ups and relatively comfy chairs. Don't know if you were around a few years ago, but not only were Common Redpolls recorded in late winter 2004, but a Hoary Redpoll joined them for a couple of weeks that February. Hope you can find the time sit and watch them, if they show up again this year!

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