Rare bird sightings frosting on the cake | Kpcnews | kpcnews.com – KPCnews.com

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Updated: March 17, 2022 @ 2:15 am
A tagged California condor in flight.

A tagged California condor in flight.
There was a rare bird, a white-crowned sparrow, on one of the bird feeders outside my dining room window this morning.
I first saw it a few minutes ago when I sat down at the dining room table to eat breakfast.
There is one bird that is much like a white-crowned sparrow, the white-throated sparrow. It, too, has a black and white crown. But it lives up to its name. It has a white throat.
The white-crowned has a gray throat.
White-crowned and white-throated sparrows nest farther north, winter farther south. But neither winters much farther south. Particularly not the white-crowned. I’ve seen a white-crowned sparrow at my feeders before this winter.
A rare bird is just a bird that we don’t see often.
It’s not a daily visitor to my feeders like the house sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches and titmice, the goldfinches, downy woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays.
Hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers are rare birds to me, like the white-crowned sparrow.
I’ve seen both this winter but I haven’t seen either often. I’ve seen a red-bellied woodpecker more often than a hairy.
Those birds I’ve just called rare and written about are rare at my feeders. There are birds that are truly rare, few in number.
The California condor is truly rare. At one time, there were just 14, I think.
They were trapped, protected, raised in captivity and when there were enough that the people caring for them thought they could survive in the wild, they were released. I don’t know the particulars. I don’t know if there are still some condors in captivity. I’ve read the details of their times when they were like caged birds, but I don’t remember them.
I’ve seen California condors living wild, two of them. I drove two-thirds of the way across North America, hoping to see them, and I did. They were flying and I didn’t see them very long.
But I saw them, two California condors.
There was a time when there was an informal organization called a rare bird alert. There were undoubtedly many groups that called themselves members of rare bird groups.
When a birder saw a rare bird, he or she called certain friends who were birders and those birders called other birders who called more birders.
There was a yellow-headed blackbird in the cattails by our pasture pond once.
My older daughter spotted it and pointed it out to me. I called other birders I knew and told them about the yellow-headed blackbird. They called other birders.
For a time, as long as the yellow-headed blackbird was there, there was much traffic, very slow traffic, on the country road past our home. I would judge, as much traffic as on an interstate highway.
There was a kiskadee in Indiana once.
Amazingly, it was about a mile from my home, and was there for several days.
A kiskadee is a flycatcher. It’s a bird of the south, deep south. It’s seldom seen north of the border with Mexico.
It’s about the size of a robin, slightly smaller. It has a large head, a yellow crown and a yellow belly, a white line from the base of its bill over each eye to the back of its head. I heard about it, of course. I called friends who are birders and I went and saw it, the only kiskadee ever seen in Indiana.
Computers and the internet are now used more often than telephones to notify birders of rare birds.
But reports of rare birds are spread. Rare birds are the frosting on the cake of bird watching.
Neil Case may be reached at neilcase1931@gmail.com.
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