Grosbeaks and redpolls

  • Blog Post by: Jim Williams
  • November 19, 2012 - 2:12 PM

 We went north this past weekend to visit friends and family. The route was cleverly created to offer birding opportunities that never materialized. Going to a specific site tomorrow to see yesterday's specific bird is a long-odds venture.

Entering Moose Lake, our first destination, we found two ornamental crap apple trees five feet from the roadway, holding about a dozen Pine Grosbeaks. That was our first true observation and photo opportunity; that was better. Sunday morning, with a five-hour gap before we left for destination number two, I drove to Duluth. A friend had written about Bohemian Waxwings in his yard. That was my target bird. Read again the sentence above about finding yesterday's bird tomorrow. I did see more grosbeaks there, however, and found yet more on a short visit to Two Harbors.

There is a trail along the Two Harbors lakeshore that begins at the lighthouse. It's a good birding spot. I tried briefly it for whatever offered. In the past I've seen both Black-backed and Three-toed woodpeckers there. This time, I found a cooperative flock of Common Redpolls, with a possible Hoary Redpoll or two. (I'm having photos of those birds examined by someone better at this fussy ID decision than I am.) The possible Hoary Redpoll is shown in the second photo below. Hoary means frosty or white. Compare it with the redpolls in the first photo. Some of these birds are simply light Common Redpolls, however. Thus, the question to my Duluth friend.

As you can see in the photo below the cap on the redpolls, from which they get their name, is red at one angle and black at another. The light refracts differently depending on angle, as it does with hummingbirds. I hadn't noticed that before. 

There are waxwings around. There was a report from Shoreview last week, a report from Detroit Lakes this morning. Don't even think about looking for those birds today.

The third photo is of a Pine Grosbeak. I like the way these birds twist themselves into position to pick berries. They have smooth, sleek lines, and colors that flow one into the other. 







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