Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crowning Glory

On my recent trip to Powder Mountain - where I added the hairy woodpecker to my life list - I also added another bird, and given that I saw it last on the trip, it would qualify as my most recent tick. An elusive, high mountain bird with stunning colors, it really is a crowning glory to a successful bird outing: the gray-crowned rosy-finch.

I've rarely seen a bird so aptly named. This finch has some of the most stunning plumage I've ever seen - milk chocolate brown overall, with a bright pink wash on the wings, a silvery gray head, and a bold black crown. The white eye ring and yellow bill complete its rainbow.

While standing still these birds are beautiful enough, they're even more astounding in flight. As the flock of nearly fifty we were watching swooped in to the feeder and soared over the roofs of the Powder Mountain resort, their wings shown silvery-white, nearly glowing in the snowy sun. Combined with the glittery cold of the day, it was a breathtaking sight.

Too often, however, birders get absorbed in the breathtaking birds they see and fail to fully appreciate their surroundings. While walking around a small area of the resort, we came to an overlook by one of the ski trails. Looking out across the mountain range with the low-lying clouds that made it a drab day in the valley, I couldn't help having the feeling of being at the very top of the world. Birding is a beautiful hobby, not only in the diversity of color, shape, and style of the birds you see, but in the beautiful places you visit to see them. The next time you're out birding, take a few moments away from the binoculars to truly see where you are. The subtle play of light along a river, the ancient crooks and curves of tree branches, the aquatic waving of meadow grasses... A beautiful setting can be the crowning glory on a day of birding, with or without lifers.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Melissa,

Glad that you were able to see the rosy-finch. As I told you earlier, we had them where I work for several weeks. Then we didn't see them for a week or two. After that we only saw them one more time. They are a pretty bird that we affectionately call "helmet-heads".

Happy birding
Lynn Gerber