“Birding” Thing's a
Though Birders are a strange Breed Sort;
They’ll range indeed from young to old,
Yet walk in Rain or bitter Cold!
Through Woods and Fields, they trod a lot,
From Dawn to Dusk, some Wren to spot;
Binoculars and Scopes in Hand,
They love to count; sometimes they’ll Band!
At Feeders, Blinds, they congregate,
In Silence, cramped, to watch and wait;
Then travel near or trek afar,
To get their “Life Lists” up to Par!
for Swallows to come back,
Or Common Ravens, oh so black;
Yet paw through Pellets; check out Scat,
Then shoo away that feral Cat!
If viewing Eggs should be their Whim,
They’ll climb tall Oaks; risk Life and Limb;
To reach a Roost; new Broods inspect,
While West Nile does those Crows infect!
Look in the Sky; out on the Lake,
A Mute Swan Cob; a Ring-necked Drake;
As Raptors soar and Songbirds sing,
They dream of Flocks, Migrations bring!
Atop a Church;
Stay on the Search; be on your Guard;
You'll never know what you might see,
When Ospreys dive, it's Ecstasy!
Cockatoos, or coarse Jackdaws,
These Birders cheer, Coos, Chirps and Caws;
They’re driven to a frenzied State,
When Mimid Mimics imitate!
Up in the Air or on the Nest;
Why are Vultures underrated?
They'll peer at Gulls in Garbage Dumps,
And thrill to hear those Ruffed Grouse Thumps;
But never, ever get their Fill,
Until they've ticked that Ivorybill!
More Whooping Cranes, in steep Decline,
Like Kirtland’s Warblers, perched in Pine;
Poor Piping Plovers' Periled Plight,
A Specie's Loss is worth the Fight!
In unmown Grass or
Bright Bobolinks; brave Ruddy Duck;
A Redwing here; that Screech Owl there,
Whose Find will be that Bird most rare?
Yet weird Bird Calls or Hoots at Night,
Give Listers Chills of sheer Delight;
But hear's still not the same as see,
Don't post lest you, a Stringer be!
should you spot some Bird, quite strange,
Though Date's not right or out of Range;
Resist that Guess, don't make a Gaffe,
Play safe and get its Photograph!
Now Picture Takers, fuss and fume,
With focused Lens, they'll pan and zoom,
To catch that Brown-backed Solitaire,
But just like Birders, not quite there!
that Birders take their avocation very seriously. Not only do they try
every possible bird on the face of the earth but
they then attempt to ornithologically classify each
one ad nauseam. One of the members of our local bird watching group spotted an unusual color variation of a White-throated Sparrow and asked me to try and photograph it. The
discovery initiated a dramatic debate about whether it should be called “albinistic” or "leucisitic” or “partially albino” or “incompletely albino” and so forth. Each contender heatedly
defended his point of view and, of course, provided lists of references, both scientific and artistic, supporting his position. This battle of definitions lasted for two days amongst our
erstwhile orniphiles. In any event, the photos depict the issue and my verse attempts to address the controversy.
Your Usual Everyday White-throated Sparrow
spent two Days in hot
Deciding on this Sparrow’s Fate;
Just what it is, we did not know,
Our feathered Creature, Curio!
“albinistic” makes Things white,
Some others think “leucistic’s” right;
To fight about it seemed absurd,
It’s just a small “white-headed” Bird!
a few days later a very small strange dark
Chickadee came into
our feeders and started the discussion all over again. Here are two photos
Melanistic (?) Chickadee
A strange dark Chickadee
Flew in to join our Expert’s Fray;
One said “Genetics”, then he’d pause,
“Perhaps Pollution is the Cause!”
guess we’ll never know
This little Bird has gone awry;
With twisted Beak to make Things moot,
'Twas melanistic or from Soot!
week we located a couple of Blue Grosbeaks. Although we saw an amazingly
indigo colored blue Male, I could not get a shot of him. The photograph below shows four
different views of the other bird. It has developed into a real controversy. My very good friend
staunchly maintains that it is a female but most of the other "experts" have said that it is a First
This Grosbeak’s been a
Our Experts really can't agree;
Some said, "It's just a First Year Male! ",
While others yelled, “No, bright Female!”
Sibley's doesn’t have one
To help us gender this blue Bird;
The Answer true eludes our Grip,
Perhaps a Coin, we'll have to flip!
a dark blue Male did
While this one fed a young Fledgling;
Two Males together would not be,
So she’s a Girl with Certainty!
the past couple of years, we have seen at least twenty birds that are considered
in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I was even fortunate enough to be able to photograph an Eastern
Kingbird at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in San Antonio, Texas in 2007. This bird is quite a rarity
this side of the equator during the winter months.
Here are some photographs
of a few of these vagrants or "accidentals"
who seem to have
strayed very far from their traditional turf or migration routes:
Ash-throated Flycatcher Black-headed Gull
California Gull Iceland Gull
Lapland Longspur Rufous Hummingbird
Savannah Sparrow (Ipswich Variety) Western Kingbird
Western Tanager Dining On Rose Hips Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Lark Sparrow Eastern Kingbird Seen In San Antonio, Texas in January
Scott's Oriole in Mechanicsburg, PA Lazuli Bunting in Red Hill, PA
Female Curlew Sandpiper at Heislerville WMA Wood Sandpiper at Prime Hook NWR in Delaware
Reeve (Female Ruff) at Heislerville WMA Allen's Hummingbird in Leola, PA
Clay-colored Sparrow At Koch Property, Easton, PA Spotted Towhee Female At Palmyra Cove Nature Center, Palmyra, NJ
Male Bullock's Oriole, Barto, PA Northern Wheatear, Fox Point SP, De
Anna's Hummingbird, Shartlesville, PA
of the rarest of birds to appear in the eastern part of the United States was
a Long-billed Murrelet
from Siberia. This little sea bird showed up at Sandy Hook, New Jersey last weekend. Hundreds of
birders queued up trying to get a look at it for their life lists. Here is my birding report (in verse) for
the day we were there with great hopes of being able to photograph it:
The Weather cold; blue Sky so clear,
We set out with our Scopes and Gear;
While on the Beach, prime Birder’s View,
Some Razorbills, we saw a few;
Red-throated plus a Common Loon,
Song, Ipswich Sparrows near a Dune;
We watched the Goldeneyes with Friends,
Though Barrow's stayed beyond my Lens;
Two Harriers, Horned Grebes and Crows,
Then Gannets, Gulls, what else, who knows;
Huge Raft of Scaup; a Long-tailed Duck,
I wish we'd had some better Luck,
Yet still we tried, but could not get,
That damned elusive Murrelet!
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6th, 2011 ©
Howard B. Eskin 2011