[Tweeters] Band-tailed Pigeons, Wren(tit), Red Crossbills and an early spring

Joshua Glant josh.n.glant at gmail.com
Wed Feb 18 18:20:40 PST 2015

Hello Tweets,

The Band-tailed Pigeons certainly are around! I spotted two of them flying high overhead on January 23rd (it was a gray day, so I could observe their columbid silhouettes and their distinctive, almost stiff-winged flight pattern that sets them apart from Rock Doves, as well as a larger size and longer wings), and just last week on February 10, I saw one flying overhead, and heard the familiar screech that is reminiscent in a way of Red-bellied Woodpecker; a minute later, I found two in the top of of a fir tree, and they were obliging for long looks in binoculars and for photos. The one at the very peak was even singing! To me, their song of rolling coo-coos is the closest thing you'll ever hear in North America to a Common Cuckoo - that is, of course, unless a vagrant male shows up somewhere near you!

While I'm still talking, I might as well mention that I did not hear the Wren(tit) again after that fateful morning last week. I'm convinced that it was probably a a Bewick's Wren. Of course, Bewick's Wrens do roam around a bit. There is one Bewick's Wren that I heard singing its distinctive song in a yard a few blocks from my own, and then I heard it singing in the bushes near my own house a week later! That wren, by the way, has a song amusingly reminiscent of an Ovenbird. Not nearly as close to an Ovenbird as the other bird was to a Wrentit, but still, it makes me smile when I hear it. I have a recording of THAT song, if anyone is interested.

Also, I figured out the mystery of the Red Crossbill call. Using the ever-helpful Xeno-Canto.org as a reference, I matched the call I heard with the "toop" or "excitement" call of the Type 3 Red Crossbill.

I got to see the crossbills very well in a grove of tall firs near my house earlier this month, and they called, including the "toop" call, and I even heard one sing! A few jumbled couplets of warbled notes came down from the treetops. I got nice photos and videos of them feeding on the pine seeds. And they weren't the only ones singing that warm, sunny day. Juncos were trilling, robins were caroling, Bewick's Wrens were twittering, chickadees were whistling, and Anna's Hummingbirds were chattering!

On February 11th, I even spotted a small bat fluttering and swooping above my house. This is the earliest I have ever heard of that a bat woke up from hibernation. I read somewhere that a few Little Brown Bats have been recorded in Puget Sound in March, but this is early February! Are there any "chiropterophiles" out there who could share some information about such an interesting sighting?

Good birding (and "batting"!) in the warm February weather, Joshua Glant

Mercer Island, WA

Josh.n.glant at gmail.com

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