The Bird Meme: Day 24

Day 24: A bird you wish more people had seen

Painted Bunting

I suppose I could be selfish here and choose a bird I haven't seen so that I could include myself in the "more people," but I'm prepared to be generous. I'm certainly very happy to have seen some birds that a lot of my friends and acquaintances have not, but I also recognize that in many cases these are sightings that stem from one thing: location. Because I've visited California and the Carolina pinewoods, I've had the chance to log both the Pygmy and Brown-headed Nuthatch, which people confined to one coast or the other can't easily do. Similarly, I've gone out to the Florida Keys to get a Common Myna and into the Rockies to get a Mountain Bluebird, which are relatively common birds--if you happen to be in those places. Is it fair, then, to waste my wish on a bird that a lot of people actually have seen?

Tough question, but either way, I have chosen a bird. It's not exactly common, no, but its range is large enough that many people have seen it, and it's memorable enough that those who have will not soon forget it. The male Painted Bunting is arguably the most beautiful bird in North America, and it's unquestionably among the most colorful, vying for the latter title with only a handful of other multifaceted jewels like the Western Tanager, the Green Jay, the Red-headed Woodpecker and various hummingbirds. The improbable combination of red underside, blue head, and green back makes the bird utterly unique among American avifauna, but its limited range--the southeastern lowlands and the south central plains--leaves a great many birders without a tick on their life lists.

The good news, of course, is that if you do manage to get to Texas or Florida or the Carolina coast at the right time of year, you stand a decent chance of seeing one, and if you do see one, you're all but guaranteed to identify it with ease. Worst-case scenario: you get a look not at the male, but at the considerably less colorful female. But hey, there's nothing wrong with being a pale green finch, and if you're lucky enough to spot one, you can take comfort in knowing that it's equally easy to identify: the female Painted is in fact the ONLY pale green finch in these parts.

So get out there and keep looking. I've got your back.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on October 13, 2017 6:58 PM.

The Bird Meme: Day 23 was the previous entry in this blog.

The Bird Meme: Day 25 is the next entry in this blog.

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