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Looking for birds in all the wrong places…

October 22, 2007

The heat is back on in North Carolina. After a couple weeks of fall weather and the faint whisper of rain on the horizon, the summer sun decided it wasn’t done with us yet and temps soared back into the 90s for what one hopes is the last heatwave of the year. Saturday morning I went out with a few people from the local Wild Bird Center. I wore shorts. In October. I hope your mind is sufficiently blown. With Mason Farm largely a bust lately from the drought we decided to go where the water was, and hit a few of the marshes around Jordan Lake.

The birds are quiet these days, it was a slow morning. We were a Sapsucker away from the woodpecker slam, and I got the best look I’d had in a long time of a Pileated Woodpecker. I continue to be amazed at how much white shows in the wings when the birds is cruising away from you. Not something I ever really noted until the Ivory-bill deal made us all very aware of the amount of white in woodpecker wings. The bird perched in a snag long enough for us to watch it hitch its way up to the top and call loudly. There were few novice birders in the group so it was nice to give them a good show. The Pileated is a stunning bird no matter how many times you’ve seen it.

I took a picture to the right of the Cape Feare River so you can get an idea of how bad it is out here. I’m kidding, that’s not the Cape Feare, but it could be in a couple months. Durham only has enough water for 60 more days, largely because of the staggering incompetence of the city government. They only just last week instituted mandatory restrictions. It’s alarming, but noone really knows what the countdown means. Hopefully we won’t have to find out.

A Song Sparrow sat on a cattail long enough for me to try some digiscoping. Not a great pic but just imagine it that bird were a Clay-colored or some other such unusual sparrow for North Carolina, I totally would have nailed it. Song Sparrow is a nice bird too though, the best we got on a slow hot October morning.

  1. Jochen permalink
    October 22, 2007 7:09 am

    Well, how did you KNOW it was a Pileated and not an IBWO?
    Did you only look at the wing?
    You are aware that some IBWO might show black secondaries (melanism)?
    Can you really rule out an IBWO by only checking for one particular field character of the PIWO?


  2. October 22, 2007 5:34 pm

    Despite it’s hitching movement and reared back posture and the fact that it spooked and flew a good distance and I’m in the historic range of the IBWO (hmm, it’s starting to sound pretty good huh?), I’m sure it was a Pileated because I watched it for upwards of 2 minutes and noted the white cheek, dark bill, and all dark wings.

    I cannot rule out an alternately and selectively melanistic and leucisitic IBWO though. So there you go…

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