Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Diversity of Guests

Two new visitors have made fleeting appearances at the hopper feeder's catch platform in the past few days. The first, several days ago, was a vibrant black headed grosbeak, easily identifiable by his distinctive orange hue, bold white markings, and characteristically scruffy appearance. While he did not linger, I was also able to distinguish his unusual bill shape and his fondness for cracking seeds with it. I am particularly thrilled at his visit because I'd hoped to attract an orange bird this summer, for no real reason other than they seem more vibrant yet less common at many backyard feeders in this area. Certainly the house finches with their orange color variants are a pleasant addition to my avian rainbow, but the black headed grosbeak is a truly orange species.

The second new visitor was even more fleeting, but for a few moments as I sat working at our patio table, I heard a hauntingly familiar stacatto call and moments later a black capped chickadee flitted to the feeder and snuck a few bites before flittering away. I haven't heard that call in years, for while these small yet hyper birds were common in the north woods where I frequently spend childhood summers, they are absent from the southeast where I lived for several years. I have seen them on some walks here in Utah, and I'm thrilled to have one as a guest at my backyard feeder, however brief the visit.

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