The Bird Meme: Day 2

Day 2: A bird that you've seen more than three times

Blue Grosbeak

A fairly large category, this. I suppose it would be possible to just toss off "European Starling" and go off on a rant, but I kind of took care of that in TV2B. Perhaps it would be better to find a slightly less common bird for today's subject. What'll it be?

How about a regional specialty? If you're a Southerner, you're used to hearing all about Cardinals and Mockingbirds, but one bird that sticks pretty strictly to the lower side of the Mason-Dixon line doesn't get nearly that degree of attention: the Blue Grosbeak.

Perhaps it's the competition from the Indigo Bunting that drives the Big Blue into relative obscurity, but I think there's an argument to be made that it's a handsomer bird. The male's shade of blue is certainly less brilliant than that of the male InBu, but it's plenty rich in itself, shading almost to violet in the right light, and it's perfectly set off by the silvery bill and (especially) the chestnut wing bars. Basically, this bird is accessorized to the max. Nor is the brown-and-chestnut female anywhere near as drab as the female InBu, whose plumage may well be the most generic of any songbird; there is literally no field mark to go by except the utter lack of field marks.

I've spotted Blue Grosbeaks on numerous occasions, but it's still a bit of a thrill to get one, as I typically see them only a few times a year, usually in the summer months. They migrate completely out of the US during the winter, and when they get back to the Southern states, they're here at the time when the heat is most likely to keep me indoors. They seem to turn up almost exclusively in low trees on the edge of open spaces, but of course, that's where they're easiest to see. And of course, every record I have for them is in a state that used to be part of the Confederacy--VA, NC, GA--with the exception of the one I spotted near Cape May, NJ, which is still technically south of the Mason-Dixon line.

My favorite sighting, however, is probably the one I logged on the bird feeder behind our house on Tiger Drive back in 2005. A male stopped by in late April, flaunting its wing bars to the neighbors, but I didn't see it again. Instead, I got a visit a few days later from the two birds it combines: a male Indigo Bunting on one side of the feeder, and a beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak on the other. It was a pairing that would have delighted me in any circumstance at all, but somehow knowing the bird they were there to replace made their arrival even more satisfying.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on September 11, 2017 6:11 PM.

The Bird Meme: Day 1 was the previous entry in this blog.

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