Sunday, January 11, 2009
Further adventures in bad bird photography
Once again, my digiscoping skills leave a lot to be desired.
Enough, though, to say about our new yard bird: "Yep, that's a Wigeon!" (American Wigeon, Anas americana.)
When I first spotted him, I thought the Hooded Mergansers had finally returned. (We haven't seen them all season, and usually they've arrived by Thanksgiving.) But a new yard bird is more exciting, even if he didn't stay long.
According to the Cornell birds site, they're a species that's increasing. (They don't say why.) I haven't watched enough Wigeons to say whether its nervous-seeming behavior was normal, or whether this individual was just anxious at being alone. He darted this way and that, in an unsettled fashion, mostly in areas where the water was too deep for dabbling.
Judging by range maps, not a lot of Wigeons winter near here, though I've seen them several times at Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. Wheeler's bird list calls them "abundant". Oh boy, is that right - I remember once searching through what seemed like a million little green baldpates before finding the one little brown one belonging to the Eurasion Wigeon vagrant in the crowd. Then after moving the scope, I never found him again.
While searching for range maps, I came across this site that has transmitters tracking Wigeons. Fascinating! Such a high mortality rate though, so sad. I don't know why I was so surprised that the survivors all returned to the same North Carolina refuge they started from, but I was.
P.S. Bonus points if you know why this bird makes me think of pineapples.
In other birding news, it's almost an all-feathered NFL playoff! The Charger-Steelers game isn't over yet, but no birds there anyway. The others teams in the semi-finals though, will be the Philadelphia Eagles, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Arizona Cardinals. Or as we like to call them, the Arizona Pyrrhuloxias. (They don't actually have cardinals in Arizona, but the Pyrrhuloxia, which does live there, is a close cousin.)