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My Life’s Birds: #104-105

July 2, 2008

October 29, 1993 – Christian Co, Mo – One location. One day. Two very different birds. One of the best features of the old Linden house was a picture window in the living room. The house sat on top of a hill overlooking the Finley River valley, and looking through that window, facing southward, one had a view over forest and farm land to the other side of the valley, some seven to ten miles away. While the woods were often too thick to see the actual river running at the bottom, the fact that the river was there was always evident by the birds we’d see out this window.

We’d occasionally spot Bald Eagle or Osprey circling above the old mill pond that was known as Lindenlure Lake, or like this day in October, a flock of Snow Geese heading south. In fact, this time of year it wasn’t uncommon to drive along the highway beneath ribbons of migrating waterfowl. Snows and Canadas were the most obvious, but others, birds I was not yet comfortable picking out, usually joined them, tracking southward ahead of the coldest of the season’s weather systems.

The arrival of waterfowl was usually a precursor for other wintry birds, and just as the Red-breasted Nuthatches had joined the mix the week before, Purple Finches were soon to follow. While the resident House Finches were aggressive and common, it’s always nice to see their boreal cousins. The Purples used to be winter residents in Missouri, seen nearly every year and noted with regularity on Christmas Bird Counts, but they slowly became less and less common until their arrival became a small point of celebration instead of an expectation. What caused this decline? No one seems to know. It could be competition with the House Finches or just a population cycle that’s reaching its low ebb. But in any case, I always keep my eyes open for that one odd House Finch that could turn out to be an unusual reunion with a bird I see far too rarely anymore.

photos from wikipedia


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