Late Fall Birds

For three seasons of the year, birdwatching can be a hectic sport. Spring and Autumn bring migration; Summer has the dawn chorus of frantically breeding birds. But birding in the Winter is a more subtle enterprise. Familiar birds are quiet, leaving mainly one’s sharp eyes to distinguish a fluttering movement, or a lump of not-a-dead-leaf on a bare forest branch. If you do hear birds, they are quietly murmuring to one another, not out brazenly singing in the open. YR Warbler

Winter birding is usually a solitary enterprise. Titmouse

Winter birding makes usually “dull” birds stand out crisply against grey backgrounds of naked trunks and overcast skies. CEWA

And winter birding brings subtle, unexpected surprises. BAOW

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Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinals are one of the most beloved songbirds. As proof, it is the state bird of seven states, more than any other species! Personally, though, I prefer more eclectic birds (and states which have a cool, unique state bird – Greater Roadrunner, from my beloved New Mexico, springs to mind). But all it takes to set off my fascination is a “cardinal of another color”. Last winter, I had a female with white cheek patches visiting my feeders. They gave her a sweet expression. I was never able to get good pictures of her, but have lucked out on this year’s oddity.

The brilliant red of a male cardinal is usually broken only by a dashing black mask around the base of the beak. But this handsome guy only has a “soul patch” of black. I think it gives him a surprised look. IMG_0504

 

Here is a normal male for comparison. IMG_0500 (1280x931)

And another view of the special guy; looking grumpy! grumpy