Sunday, May 4, 2008

Two New Species

Wonderful news to report today, confirmation of two new species now added to my lists. One is finally identified for the wild list, while the other is a new and unexpected visitor -- and voracious feeder -- to the backyard.

The newly identified wild bird is the Downy Woodpecker, whom I've seen regularly on a particular trail walk by the Provo River but whom I've been unable to identify without the zoom-and-freeze aid of a digital camera. While this is a common wild bird, identification can be challenging because of its similarity to the Hairy Woodpecker; truly they look like twins, though the downy woodpecker is smaller with a shorter bill. Because those are the only ways to truly distinguish this bird from its larger cousin, the camera was necessary to help freeze the moment and make the positive identification.

The new backyard visitor is a Lazuli Bunting, or rather quite a few of them. The beautiful blue, cinnamon, and white coloring of this songbird made him easy to identify, and it's apparent that they travel in flocks for in the course of less than an hour, the feeder was visited by at least three males and one rusty-buff female. Somewhat more skittish and hyperactive than the Cassin's finches and house finches that were feeding alongside, the Lazuli buntings appear to prefer niger seed and other mixed seeds (though not the black oil sunflower) on the platform feeder. This makes me doubly glad that I've opted to include niger seed in the custom mix I fill the large hopper feeder with, if it is indeed attracting such a stunning variety of visitors.

Welcome, all.

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