Now that I can see them, I understand what bird watching is all about. Compared to the more secretive mammals (if you don’t count the chipmunks and squirrels), many species of bird conduct a lot of their business of meeting, quarreling and foraging in plain sight, secure in the knowledge that the world of the air is theirs. Not only are they way more active and busy to the eye than,say,deer, they sing and come in a hundred colors and shades.
Okay, fine, this is not exactly Big Scientific News. But it’s news if you have only recently been able to tell a floater in your eye from a mouse in the sink, and OMG the colors this year! We haven’t spotted anything unusual since the water thrush in 2019, so if you live in the east, you have probably seen and heard all these birds as well. That doesn’t make them any less amazing.
Of course, everyone knows the show offs of the entire animal kingdom are the males, and birds are no exception. I am trying to avoid gender bias in my bird watching, but female blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) look pretty much like the males, maybe because the species as a whole is just 100% balls to the wall. They are the street kids of the bird feeders, and beautiful acrobats. (These shots are from a stealth cam-I’m not that quick on the shutter!).
Blue as they are, they don’t hold a candle to an Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). The shade of blue is more…what? Turquoise? Both the Bluejay and the Bunting get their blue from the structure of their feathers rather than the pigmentation. (Editors note: Real Science!)
Below is another example of color that comes from structure rather than pigmentation-in this case it’s iridescence on the hummingbird gorget.
Goldfinches are not shy or uncommon, but our flock really cheered me up this year. As my brother said on spying one, “That’s a handsome bird.”
Super thrilled to have a Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) come to a feeder near my window, but he was chased away by the Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus).
What a colorful shot that would have been! Instead, I got this magnificent Cardinal hiding in the background.
I am not going to leave out the color of some of my favorite birds – crows and ravens. I don’t have a good shot of the raven pair we’ve seen around (mostly being chased by crows), but I did catch a couple of European Starlings and a Red-winged Blackbird. I just love that flash of yellow or red.
Did I leave anybody out? Maybe.Probably. But after all this flash and glory I’m craving a little subtlety. LBB’s, anyone?