Getting to Know You

There’s seeing a bird and then there’s seeing a bird.  Every so often you come across a bird that will throw you through a loop… like momentarily looking at a loved one with the perspective of a stranger.

I had two such encounters when I birded on Saturday.    While I was at Cushetunk Lake, I followed the stream path, came across a patch of activity so I plopped myself down on the sun-warmed bank and watched the activity.  Across the creek there was  a plump, rose colored gray bird that gave me good pause.  I didn’t have either my camera or my phone with me, so I had to note all details by memory.    When I returned to the car, I perused my Audubon guide and then at home I looked online for confirmation.  It took awhile and I was never fully satisfied with any individual photo, but a composite gets me there.

purple finch mystery

Photo credits: left birdzilla and right amcclab @ psych.wustl.edu Points modified by moi. Accessed: 2/4/2013

  • Point A: The breast of the individual I observed had no streaking.  In fact the bird looked as though an artist had come by and smoothed away all streaking.
  • Point B: The beak was definitely yellow.  Inside too, I believe.  I was watching this bird eat the remains of berries on the bushes.
  • Point C:  This was the most puzzling part.  The head was predominantly brown with a rose patch… imagine a reverse of the right bird’s face.
  • Also, the wings appear to have some black and white more than the brown in either image.

For these points, I conclude I observed a Purple Finch.  I’ve not had

Gadwall swimming at Round Valley Reservoir, Hunterdon, NJ. 2/2/2013

Gadwall swimming at Round Valley Reservoir, Hunterdon, NJ. 2/2/2013

many encounters with them, but hopefully the next Purple Finch I spot will be an easier identification.

The second bird was a bit easier to figure out.  As I was finishing my time at Round Valley, I came across four ducks swimming in the one portion that wasn’t frozen.  They all bore striking resemblance to female Mallards, but they weren’t.  My phone wasn’t sufficient for a photo, so I ran back to the car and grabbed my dying camera.  I got a few shots – enough for me later on to identify it as a Gadwall.  Woo!

No new life birds, but two new birds for 2013: Purple Finch and Golden-Crowned Kinglet.  Currently at 71 species for 2013, and 31 for February.

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2 thoughts on “Getting to Know You

  1. Good job in your detective work! Looks like you are well on your way with learning identification and with your Year’s list! thanks for your visit to my blog!

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