lifers. The first was in late January, when on a local tip, I was able to finally see a bird I've coveted for years - the elusive evening grosbeak.
I say elusive because these are heavily nomadic birds that travel between food sources, but because they travel, it can be hit-or-miss to see them. Apparently, however, they are regular winter visitors at Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, a short drive away - and well worth it for the views. The healthy, hearty stand of mature juniper trees in the cemetery provide abundant fruit for these large finches, and they're easily viewable there, when they do visit.
I was at the cemetery twice, and managed sightings both times. The first was adequate, though less than satisfying - the day was overcast so the birds' colorful plumage was not as readily visible in all its flourescent glory, and the flock of 15-20 birds was only present for a few minutes after I arrived. The next day, however, was sunny and fair, and when I returned the birds were there as well - many more (a rough estimate of likely 50 birds or more). Not only was their plumage practically glowing in the sunlight, but the combined sounds of their voracious appetites munching on juniper berries sounded like a rain shower sprinkling through dense foliage, an amazing and unexpected experience.
On that second day, the birds were more than cooperative, and were much more interested in their berries than in the attentions of an enthralled birder. I was also able to meander around the property a bit, and saw mountain chickadees, a juniper titmouse, white-breasted nuthatches, and Eurasian collared-doves. Quite the day!
The evening grosbeak gets its name from its plumage coloration evocative of sunset, as well as its heavy, thick bill. For me, however, the experience was more akin to an enlightening dawn and the delicate thrill of discovering more of nature's beauty - an experience I look forward to repeating many times to come. After all, there are 10,000 bird species in the world, and I've only seen 381. That leaves me 9,619 beautiful birds to enjoy that same discovery with.
Sounds like a challenge.