December 14th, 2007
Call me silly or naive, but I feel honored when a special bird visits my bird feeding station. This fabulously beautiful and interesting bird is the Evening Grosbeak.
The flock is, indeed, a gross of grosbeaks–I didn’t just invent that.
Until today I had only seen a single Evening Grosbeak. That was about a year ago and I wasn’t able to snap a photo before it flitted away.
Today, I was playing hooky from work and catching up on my ironing while gazing out the back windows. (Do I know how to have a good time on a Friday or what?) From where I iron in the kitchen, I can see the bird feeding stations, which consist of two free-standing poles–one with several small feeders, including a nyger feeder for the Goldfinches, a larger hopper feeder with a platform underneath to catch stray seed and a single two-tiered feeder hanging in a tree.
I immediately noticed a flash of white on the wings of a bird flying to the hopper feeder. Since our usual bird buffet guests are Tufted Titmouses, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Goldfinches–none of which have this distinctive white shoulder patch–I was immediately captivated. I snagged my binoculars and confirmed–EUREKA! EVENING GROSBEAKS! And not one! A gross of grosbeaks!
Of course, I was torn between watching before they flew away and running for my camera. You can tell that I took the gamble and scrambled for the camera with the long lens. Then I had to scramble for the tripod because the long lens is, well, long. It is quite heavy and needs the tripod for stabilization. I crossed my fingers and tippy toed just outside the back door and banged off a few shots.
Just then, the workmen who were to install a new front door system arrived. Why is it that these guys never arrive on time unless you’re taking photos of Evening Grosbeaks or have just stepped out of the shower?
Well, of course, they all flew away. There was no hope of their returning with all the commotion of door removal and installation. Still, I feel honored that they visited and will be looking outside hopefully for days to come.
Here in Maryland the Evening Grosbeak is only a winter visitor. Although a type of finch, the Evening Grosbeak is more along the size of a Robin. The males have a brilliant yellow color, even in winter, while the females are more drab. The wings have back tips and a white band that is very noticeable when they are moving about.
An Evening Grosbeak has a distinctive and facile method of eating sunflower seeds, dexterously manipulating it with his cone-shaped bill. They are prodigious eaters and can wipe out a feeder given the opportunity. They also are known for eating large quantities of salt and fine salty gravel from roadways.
I’ll be peering out the windows again tomorrow. There is an ice storm headed our way, but I am prepared. I stocked up at K-Mart yesterday on flashlight batteries, candles, camp stove fuel and even a coffee percolator. (Gotta have that java!) Since we lose water as well as power when the electricity goes out, I’ll be filling our bathtubs with water once the storm moves in. I’ll also be up early tomorrow morning to bake bread, a cake and make soup that can be easily heated on a camp stove.
My husband and son find my storm preparations amusing. The people at K-Mart looked at me yesterday like I was some sort of survivalist out for my annual survival gear shopping spree.
Oh well. I am naive about birds and amusing about my storm preparations. At least I’m not totally dull.
Posted In: Nature and Wildlife