Another Double Whammy!! ‘Bird Is The Word’ Blog #71

Another double whammy!! Do you remember the t.v. game show ‘Press Your Luck?’ The contestants would be screaming ‘no whammy, no whammy’ knowing that a whammy would bring their score all the way back down to zero. They didn’t want a whammy, well as a birder, I have had three double whammy’s back to back to back! I’m fine with getting that kind of whammy!


First, Oh just a little visitor called a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and an elusive Virginia Rail on the same day. Then the next day a Purple Gallinule and an American Bittern. And now… in the same day, two amazing lifers, A Northern Wheatear and an Evening Grosbeak! I don’t know which one to be more excited about! The Evening Grosbeak being a bird very high up on my life-list hopefuls, or the Northern Wheatear, a bird completely off my radar, that was a rad surprise. Of course venturing out for these birds was very exciting!


Having a super cold was not helping and when I halfheartedly read a report of an Evening Grosbeak mid-week I knew I would not be seeing this bird. I was so out of my NyQuil coma’d mind that I actually forgot about it. I figured it would be long gone before I could even entertain chasing it. A few days later I saw the report of the Northern Wheatear and as I was readying myself to go see it when a friend called me. “Are you going to see the Wheatear? We were just there and now heading up to see the Evening Grosbeak.” The Evening Grosbeak, please tell me more about that, I’m not aware of that one!


I had completely lapsed about it! I didn’t realistically expect to see both of these birds and would be totally overjoyed to not strike out completely! Making the trip to the Wheatear under much excitement I came upon the scene to a few very polite birders who pointed out the bird for me right away! I caught a glimpse of it switching from perch to perch as I was assisted in finding it and quickly got my eyes on this stellar bird! I had vaguely mentioned in the last blog that this weeks entry may involve a bird that winters in Africa! I was eluding to this!

The Northern Wheatear has its summer range in Alaska and Northern Canada. It’s not supposed to be down my way at all. Birds in its  eastern population migrate east through Greenland and Europe and winter in Africa. The Western population fly over the Bering Strait, continue west over Asia, also headed to Africa according to the bird guides. That is an amazing migration, and I am just blown away by this little bird! Considered an ‘old world’ flycatcher or a ‘new world’ thrush I had a hard time trying to make out this bird on it’s behavior alone. It didn’t make me think of a flycatcher and to me acted more like a Thrush, like a Robin or a Hermit Thrush. Albeit it didn’t act too much like those either, but when it was scurrying on the ground it had some thrush like qualities! What an immense bird and a very entertaining and sweet individual!


The bird spoiled all birders involved, and after going perch to perch on top of tiny shrubs and sticks it began picking nearby fences, traffic cones and even signs!


Northern Wheatear






Part one of this double whammy, the Northern Wheatear!




I loved watching the Wheatear run around and bob its tail, but I admit when it landed on the no stopping sign I thought that was the greatest!




Here is a video clip of the < wheatear >


As much as I enjoyed hangin’ with this bird, another type of nature called and I had to leave sooner then I would have liked. Exiting the park I felt my mind start to wander about that Evening Grosbeak. Should I go back to see the Wheatear some more or get a bit greedy and try for the second lifer of the day? With the ride being just a few miles the latter won out and I headed to the next park in hopes of yet another species.


This would prove to be the tougher of the two. As I arrived I felt a bit overwhelmed as far as where to go. I remembered to check the sighting details for some hints. That got me closer to the right spot and also told me this bird liked crab-apple trees. After parking I found three or four other birders. The bird had been out, even drinking from puddles but had largely been in hiding. One birder with a very keen eye put the whole group on the bird even though it was few layers back in the brush and forest. I got amazing looks in the binoculars, but lost track of the bird when I went for my camera to get a documentation photo. Whoa! What a bird! I had a perfect head on look at the bird and I was awestruck! It was overcast and rain seemed a possibility but it was a really nice peaceful place and I didn’t want to leave. I also really wanted a photo! The same birder who spotted it first got eyes on it again as it flew over the road and perched in a tree! It didn’t stay long, just a few seconds. But I had enough time to snap just three photo’s and take this video < Egrosbeak > I stayed around a bit longer just enjoying the serenity that was only disrupted by the presence of some raptors. It was a very amazing birding day! As the sun set I head out feeling very lucky and very happy to have had these experiences!


Part two of this double whammy was this Evening Grosbeak!

As we get closer to the dog days of winter I doubt I’ll be able to spoil this blog with more and more sightings of such rare birds! I mean how do you top these birds! I’m not greedy enough to even want to know! It has been really great and I am very happy and in disbelief of the amazing birds that have come this way! I hope for successful journeys for all these birds, their path may have taken them a bit off their normal routes but I hope they safely get where they are going! Thank you all for reading! Please click the links below for all things