Friday, November 20, 2020

A Lesson in Patience

     I have heard so much about crossbills, they are highly sought after and always on the move. They have weird crossed bills, for which they are named and are considered a winter finch. Winter finches have been quite plentiful this year with conditions up north being low on the food supply, these bird pushed further south than usual. There is usually a scant few crossbills at Jones Beach in the winter but there have been decent-sized flocks this fall. I had to try my luck.

    I packed up the baby, some milk, extra diapers and off we went.

Our morning began with a Cooper's Hawk and lots of little familiar birds.

We birded the median strip of Ocean Parkway, which seems a bit funny, to a non-birder, but this is always where one goes to look for crossbills and other coniferous loving birds. We met some new friends, it's funny, I guess many don't bird with a baby and boy oh boy, do folks love seeing her. To me, it's just so funny, I never realized how much people like babies.
I won't lie, I am always feeling the pressure to keep her calm, smiley, and content. I do think she is generally curious, peering around and sometimes taking a nap when we are on the move. I find myself talking to her about the birds we see or hear, making up really dumb songs about birds, and imitating their sounds to her.
Well, anyway, today she was a trooper!

At home, we are familiar with American Goldfinch, we see them... well, one. At our feeder daily. There were way more than one here today.

Staying true to its name, a pine siskin fed upon pine seeds.

All these birds, feeding on these cones all have specially shaped bills to extract the seeds they consume. Sometimes when a come-bearing tree is full of seed eating birds, the tree looks like it is snowing as the winged seed coats float down and catch the slightest breeze.

Even the black-capped chickadees got in on the action.

We really just paced around in this small area, snacked on a bottle, even changed a diaper among our feathered friends, sang a few songs about "where are the hungry birdies?" and then a sound that was unlike the others. A small flock flew and made a pass. I got on them and saw a few red heavy looking birds...

The flock landed in a tree maybe 30 feet away and so it was red crossbills!

At this point, the birders on the median had long ago left us. It had been over an hour we were hanging out and just for maybe a minute-minute and a half we got to enjoy this little flock, all to ourselves. A life bird for the both of us.

Unlike the other birds feeding on the cones here, crossbills have an advantage with that crossed bill. It allows them to get into the cones that have not opened yet to access their seeds.

The males and females are easy to tell apart, the males being red and the females a ochre yellow.

And just as quickly as they came, off they went. All that time we spent waiting, 100% worth it.
What a wonderful magical moment. I get it, I get why people absolutely LOVE crossbills. I already want to go see them again.

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