Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall migration and...

Migration is so much fun.  We've been pretty busy at work these last few weeks, and haven't had much spare time for either birding or blogging, but this week we have something special to report... so... here goes.
Sparrows are beginning to pass through.

Lynn saw a White-throated Sparrow yesterday.  First of the fall, so, kind of exciting.  But not as exciting as Wednesday's bird.  As she drove through West Campus that morning, her attention was piqued by a big active flock near the "sparrow nook". 

Besides cowbirds, robins, flickers and a song sparrow, there was another sparrow.  A sparrow she didn't recognize.  With neither camera nor field guide handy, she made a beeline for her office and computer, where she was busy studying sparrow images when I walked in...
Whatcha lookin' at??

With a few minutes to go before official work time, the two of us took off back down to the sparrow nook.  The bird was still there!!  With a borrowed camera, Lynn took a few photos, and we studied the field marks from a safe distance.  A large-ish sparrow, plain pale belly with a dark smudge on the breast, the tail had big white corners, face and crown strongly striped with black, chestnut and white.  Anybody taking any guesses here?

We kept our distance because the bird seemed shy and flushed easily.  Er, for those of you non-birders, flushing is when a bird flies away when disturbed.  Our bird is really unusual for Connecticut, normally inhabiting lands to the west of the Mississippi River.

Lark Sparrow, Chondestes grammacus, Lynn's photo.  Click link for more of Lynn's images
Lark Sparrow -- la la la Lark Sparrow!!!
A very exciting find for us, and of course a new bird for West Campus.  Lark Sparrow is a lifer for Lynn, and I was thinking maybe for me too, but found it on my life list from Tubac, Arizona in 1981.  Still, it's a bird that makes very few Connecticut bird lists.  Chondestes grammacus.  The genus is from the greek Khondros, for grain or seed, and edestes, an eater, and the species from greek grammikos, for linear or striped, referring to the striped head pattern.

In the interest of keeping your interest and limiting the narrative, I'll move on to the list.  It's a three-week list, yup, as I mentioned already, we've been pretty busy with work.

West Campus Bird List for most of September, (3-7, 10-14, 17-21), 2012:

Raptors in migration, including our resident 'tails':
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Bald Eagle
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
American Kestrel

Other non-passerines:
Canada Goose
Herring Gull
Wild Turkey

Northern Flicker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Chimney Swift
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

And all the rest:
American Crow
Fish Crow
Common Raven
Blue Jay
European Starling
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Gray Catbird

Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
House Wren
Carolina Wren
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Sparrow

Finches and Sparrows:
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Lark Sparrow

Warblers and Vireos:
Common Yellowthroat
Magnolia Warbler
American Redstart
Red-eyed Vireo

Brown-headed Cowbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

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