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Monday, November 28, 2011

New yard bird

The Dickcissel is a pretty little sparrow-like bird. It looks a bit like a more colorful House Sparrow, a bird with which it sometimes flocks and feeds. Spending time with the more common House Sparrow, along with its similarity in appearance, means that this bird is sometimes overlooked, but it is fairly common in appropriate habitat in our area in summer. Appropriate habitat for the bird is usually grassy fields and tallgrass prairies. Katy Prairie is prime Dickcissel habitat. It's not so often seen as a yardbird.

Imagine my surprise then when I looked out my library window today and saw a single bird at the feeder there, a bird which I at first thought was a House Sparrow until I noted the yellowish eye stripe and malar stripe (a stripe on the sides of the neck. In addition, the black on the breast was differentiated and formed a V-shape, very unlike a House Sparrow, more like an Eastern (or Western) Meadowlark. Dickcissel! A Dickcissel at my bird feeder.

I grabbed the camera, which of course had the wrong lens on it, and aimed it through my somewhat dirty window to try to record the visit. I snapped a few pictures and then ran to get a longer lens, but, naturally, by the time I had changed to the better lens, the bird had flown. It did not return while I was watching.

     This is just about the best of the pictures I got. At least you can see the V-shaped black patch on the throat/breast, even if the other field marks are really not visible.

I was very disappointed that I wasn't able to get a better picture of the bird. If it hangs around the neighborhood for a while, maybe I'll get a second chance at it. The Dickcissel, though, is a bird on the move at this time of year. The birds spend their winters in South America, so it may not tarry for long here. I was very lucky to be looking out my window at just the right moment today and so I get to add a new species to my yard list. I wonder how many birds I miss because I don't happen to be in the right place at the right time?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you have some interesting bird activity. I think I might have spotted a Junco this morning. There were 4 to 5 of them feeding on the ground. They had black heads, brown backs and white fronts. Wish I had time to grab my camera and snap a picture.