Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lucky Crown

So much of birding is luck - being in the right place at the right time. A matter of a few minutes can make a difference for seeing a new bird, observing unusual behavior or hearing a new song, and it was just a few minutes earlier this month that made the difference for me adding a new yard bird to my list.

More than luck, birders need the ability to notice unusual details, and it was one particular detail that led me to recognize a new visitor. It was a bright, sunny day - the type of light that can wash out plumage and make colors brighter and more glaring. But no bird I'd yet seen in the yard should have been showing a flash of white on its head, no matter how bright the sun was glaring. But it wasn't a fluke; again and again, this bird's head flashed as it fed along the top of the fence railings where I often sprinkle treats of hulled sunflower for house finches, house sparrows and other interested parties. This bird was most definitely interested in those treats, just as I was interested in its identity.

It wasn't hard to identify - the black and white stripes on its head, its long tail and its streaked body are key clues to the white-crowned sparrow. I've had these birds at my feeders previously in both former backyards, but to have this one appear so eager in the spring was more of a treat for me than the seeds were a treat for the hungry bird.

Will he be back? I haven't seen him since, but his first visit was so fleeting, it's entirely possible he has already been back and forth at times when my eyes aren't trained on the feeder; bad luck on my part. I hope he does revisit, and I hope he knows just how welcome he is, and how lucky he makes me feel.