[Tweeters] American Redstart at Conrad Meadows today 9 October

Andy Stepniewski steppie at nwinfo.net
Wed Oct 9 19:19:43 PDT 2019


Hi Yakkers and Tweeters,

Denny Granstrand and I headed up to Conrad Meadows this morning in hopes of blundering on Spruce Grouse. It was a very cold morning there with temperatures about 21 F at 8 am. A light dusting of snow mantled the trees and ground. I started out on the old jeep road towards the areas Spruce Grouse have been sighted, but my physical limitations told me perhaps this was not a good idea for me to press onwards. Denny continued on but was unable to find any grouse. Returning to the parking area in a forest of lodgepole pine, Engelmann Spruce, Subalpine Fir, and Douglas-fir, we met up with birder Jordan Roderick, whom I know through a friend. We were standing around talking about the birds and cold when Denny said "hey, there's an American Redstart." I was startled when I looked perhaps 15 yards and low and behold there was a beautiful male American Redstart. It soon became evident this insectivore was hugging the ground, especially bare ground near vegetation. Jordan saw it capture and wolf down a hefty insect, perhaps 1/2 inch long. After downing his big meal, the redstart perched motionless on a rock, quite unlike the usual butterfly actions of this species. I wondered aloud if bare ground, even with near freezing temperatures, was where the bugs were. Meanwhile, both Denny and Jordan took lots of photos of this stunning bird.

Exploring eBird sightings of this species this evening, I find the nearest American Redstart within the past couple of days appears to be in Southern California (near Ventura), some 13 degrees south in latitude. One suspects this bird faces a grim future, being a full three weeks behind the migration of his brethren (at least in the West where it is a sparse migrant). Speaking for myself, I'm rooting this redstart makes its way southward, and very quickly, at least to the northern Neotropics, to join others of its species.

Reflecting on this observation, in my 50 years of birding, I can seldom recall ever crossing paths with a bird so utterly at odds with known patterns of bird distribution.

Andy Stepniewski
Yakima WA
Steppie at nwinfo.net



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