Wednesday, February 10, 2010

White-headed Cardinal

Had a really odd-looking Cardinal at my feeders yesterday. It had a white head. Not quite as white as the snow, but pretty close. At first I thought the bird had snow on its head, but no, the head was white. The crest on top of its head was kind of a peach color, and when the bird raised its crest it looked almost like some sort of weird parrot. From the neck down it looked like a female cardinal, except it had two very obvious peach colored patches on the secondaries, one on each side. The peach sized patches were about the size of a quarter. I'm guessing it was a female. The other cardinals, both male and female, were very aggressive towards it.

Some other highlights from the past few days:

* I have an American Tree Sparrow with an identity crisis. It seems to think it's a junco. It comes to the feeders with a flock of juncos, and leaves with the juncos when they leave. Been doing this for several days.

* Yesterday, as the snow was tapering off, I set a new yard record for juncos...85 at once in the back and side yards.

* Yesterday morning by the IU cross country course there was a Northern Mockingbird singing sweetly in a fairly heavy snowfall...a little cognitive dissonance...winter and spring at the same time.

* There was a brief sparrow bonanza under the feeders this AM. At one time I had eight sparrow species simultaneously: House (only one!), White-throated, White-crowned, Junco, Towhee (a yard bird rarity here), American Tree (hanging with the Juncos), Song, and Fox.

* As I walk through the neighborhood there is one block with lots of ornamental fruit trees, all apparently the same species. All but one of these trees were picked clean a couple of weeks ago. The fruit on this one tree remained untouched. But this morning that tree was packed with Robins, Starlings, Waxwings, and Bluebirds gorging on the fruit. It was almost like they'd been holding that tree in reserve, saving it for a snowy late winter's day.

* While I was walking through the neighborhood this AM a flock of about 50 Eastern Bluebirds flew over east 10th Street and John Hinkle Place. That's the most I've seen at one time in quite a while. Some of them were a particularly vibrant blue in the weak sunlight that was trying to poke through.

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