Exceptional Sightings

Eastern Bluebird, male. Photograph by Ken Thomas.*

The back garden bustled with countless cardinals, towhees, black-capped chickadees, house finches, robins and mourning doves vying for positions at the feeder early this morning. Then the intense deep blue of an Eastern Bluebird captured my attention.

Although it is said bluebirds do not often visit feeders, they do come to this particular garden feeder. They often perch on a branch of a nearby Red Maple (Acer rubrum), sitting quietly for long periods. When a bluebird deems the time to be right and he heads for the feeder, what a treat it is to see the quick flash of blue as light is scattered across its feathers. Such a magnificence, that blue!

Red-winged Blackbird. Photo credit: Alan D. Wilson, http://www.naturespicsonline.com.*

Today the bluebird was abruptly displaced by a quick, much larger bird at the feeder. Blue coloration was displaced by a majestic display of brilliant red, unmistakably belonging to a Red-winged Blackbird.

Though apparently among the most plentiful of birds in North America, none ever had been observed in this garden before today and it was quite exciting. The Red-winged Blackbird took his time at the feeder, allowing ample time to call for help in verifying the identification. Appearing dark and unremarkable while he roosted on the feeder, he lifted off with a confident display of red. Then he was gone, unaware of the excitement he caused.

The Red-winged Blackbird, caught today in such an uncommon sighting for this garden, perhaps would not have made a stir elsewhere.  And the Eastern Bluebird, already having made a small habit of attending the feeder, seemed a rather normal sight. Exceptional sights today, these birds were part of the garden only for a sliver of time, then they moved on.

Soon the cardinals returned, displaced only momentarily by a yellow-bellied sapsucker before resuming their breakfast.

Listen to an Eastern Bluebird and to a Red-winged Blackbird.

*Photo Credits: Eastern Bluebird, public domain.  Red-Winged BlackbirdCC BY-SA 2.5.

4 thoughts on “Exceptional Sightings

  1. Judy Beard

    I’m envious. I’ve been hearing the birds all winter. Don’t think they ever needed to fly any farther south. Have glimpsed two cardinals recently.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Yes indeed. It’s especially interesting about bluebirds. I never saw a bluebird growing up. I understand that around 1979 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared them rare. But due to conservation efforts bluebirds have made quite a comeback.


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