Sunday, May 3, 2009

One Good "Tern"

After days of hectic scheduling and steady, dreary rain, the weather cleared today enough for a bit of local birding, and I wasn't disappointed in the results. My husband and I spent an hour on the Brigham Young University campus, watching ducklings and mallards in the botany pond as well as exploring the gentle paved trails along a heavily wooded and carefully maintained hillside. There, I spotted a lively, hyperactive little bird that is none other than a ruby crowned kinglet, and despite the bird's aversion to sitting still I managed to capture a quick picture as well as add another bird to my life list.

After several days of birding drought, however, one new bird - even a fun one - wasn't enough, and we visited a favorite pond where earlier this season we'd spotted dozens of American white pelicans. The pelicans have moved on, and at first the area seemed sadly devoid of birds until I noted what looked like gulls whirling and diving in the distance. After tromping through a sandy construction zone toward a dredge pond, I spotted what weren't gulls after all, but what were Caspian terns, and another newcomer to my life list. Terns can be challenging to identify, but the thick, dark red bill, black legs, and hefty size of these birds pinpointed their identity.

Even the backyard yielded a surprise today: the first lazuli bunting of the season has returned for the briefest of visits. Last spring these colorful blue, white, and cinnamon colored songbirds descended on the yard in large numbers for several weeks, and I hope they will do so again. The new feeders are gradually being put in place, and it is my hope that the last bit of the landscaping will be finished early this week so I can begin planting and adding new feeders in earnest. The birds are coming, and I must be ready!

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