Friday, January 29, 2016

Birding delights in our own front yard.

With excitement I share with you a gift granted to me, the winter birds that blessed us with their presence this past week. The temperature warmed greatly above zero and as the snow melted flocks of birds we had never noticed in our area arrived to gleam seeds from the cones of the fruitful spruce trees that sport a bumper crop of cones way up top.

There are seven White-winged Crossbills in this photo, but if you can spot five you are doing well as they blend in so fine. The interesting thing I've noticed is this is a mixed flock, there are also Red Crossbills, see below photo. 
The red birds are the males, the yellow greenish birds are females.

Male White-winged Crossbills.
 In The Birds of Alberta book it says they rarely flock together, so I guess we were really given a gift. These birds stayed mostly in the tree tops. Two days later they were back, this time many were feeding on seeds dropped to the ground. 
Crossbills top mandible (jaw, beak) crosses over the lower one. The beak is specifically designed to pry into coniferous cones to gain access to the seeds within. What a wonderful experience to watch this female White-winged Crossbill pry out seeds by jabbing her thin curved beak up under the lip of the cone and wiggle her head back and forth pulling out seeds.

Unique specialty designs of nature these birds are, you can clearly see the beak crosses over itself. Got this shot as the bird hopped under the window I was shooting out of.
Female White-winged Crossbill.

While the females were prying seeds from fallen cones the males were a lazily picking seeds from the ground.
I believe this may be an immature male as his coloration is more orange than red.

Mature White-winged Crossbills were elusive as they took flight at the slightest noise so I was lucky to get this clear shot of one on the sidewalk.

Male Red Crossbill, notice no wing bars and softer coloration.

Female Red Crossbill posing on the gutter just above where I was standing. A female flew down and landed two feet away from my head, I held my breath in awe, a gift to behold close up. She peered into my eyes, cocked her head, then took to the air. sigh.

Where the melting snow puddled in the gutter the Crossbills took turns bathing.

May you enjoy the gift of these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. 

1 comment:

Red said...

Awesome photos and story line. I also have many crossbills at my feeder. It's been a good Jan for birds. On Mon. I had 11 species visit my yard. Keep warm.