There was a burst of white in the yard recently, but despite the time of year, it's not what might be expected. It wouldn't be unusual for a quick dusting of snow to appear these days, but the dusting of white I saw wasn't fluffy flakes in the air or chiseled frost on the ground - it was a slash of white on a dove's wing.
It was on a hopper feeder, a popular snack spot for a flock of Eurasian collared-doves, and at first - in the flurry of my own activity - I didn't quite register the new bird. But even in a quick glance with a dozen other things on my mind, something different did register - maybe it was the spot on the neck rather than the half-collar, the extra blue skin around the eyes, the brighter red on the feet, or yes, the white slash on the edge of the wing. Together, those markings pulled me up short and I turned back to the window - no, I wasn't dreaming, it was a white-winged dove.
To birders in further southern areas, particularly Florida, Texas, and throughout much of the deep southwest, a white-winged dove is a common feeder bird, even an unwanted bully at times, but in Utah they are only typically present in the summer in the extreme southwestern corner of the state, and rather rare at that. This far north, and at this time of year, it's an unexpected and welcome surprise, and certainly caught me off guard. Fortunately, I've seen these birds before - they were common and omnipresent during my trip to Texas, and I've regularly seen them during my trips to Las Vegas - so I could identify this unusual guest quickly.
What a treat, a new yard bird. But a bittersweet one at that, considering what was to come - the dozen other things on my mind - but that's a story for another day. For today, it's wonderful to enjoy a new and unique visitor.