Yes, I keep a life list of birds! But along with the list (which includes birds from around the world), I also try to learn something about the species logged, and lately I’ve been enjoying sketching them too.
It’s been a while since a new-to-me bird species came into view. So it was doubly exciting when I was able to increase my list by two on two consecutive days. Meet the Scott’s Oriole and the Hermit Thrush.
June 30, 2022. Scott’s Oriole ……. What a gorgeous burst of lemon yellow! Hiking along the trail on a beautiful morning, keeping my eyes and ears wide open for anything new, off to the west I was surprised to hear a familiar song. My first reaction was, “wow, that must be a Western Meadowlark!!” But listening closer, the birdsong seemed sweeter and more melodious than the meadowlark, and besides meadowlarks don’t usually keep singing well past sunrise, right? And this desert habitat is all wrong too. Then scanning the treetops I spotted him. Perched high in a juniper, singing like he owned the world, was a good sized bird with a glossy black head, neck and wings, and the most brilliant yellow breast I’ve ever seen! Still unsure what species this guy could be, I quickly took a few pictures and then he flew away.
The pictures were proof positive …… Scott’s Oriole!
July 1, 2022. Hermit Thrush ……. Hiking into the pine and fir forests of the eastern flank of Sandia Mountain is such a pleasure on a hot summer morning. With an elevation in excess of 8300 feet, not only the vegetation but the wildlife is very different from the surrounding arid foothills and desert. This is an area of black bear, mountain lion and bobcat. A horned lizard may cross the trail, snakes are scarce, and the views are amazing.
Descending the trail after a pleasant hike we heard unfamiliar birdsong. About 20 feet to our right was a non-descript brown bird sitting on a pine branch in a small opening singing a melancholy 6-note melody. He sang and sang, maybe calling his mate to join him. She never showed up, but this little bird stayed long enough to snap a few photos.
And once again, the pictures were key in identifying this bird as a Hermit Thrush.
Have you seen any new-to-you birds this summer? I’d love to know!