Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve - Rufous Hummingbird and Dickcissel

Manhattan on the last shopping day before Christmas ? Madness. However I decided to take a little photo/birding trip into NYC in search of two rarities: Dickcissel and Rufous Hummingbird.

The Dickcissel was significant because I've seen very few Dickcissels in general (my first being one at Jones Beach in 2001), certainly not annually, although 2011 was a bumper year for them by comparison: one in FL; the ones at Negri-Nepote in late spring; singing birds in TX; and now this one. This Dickcissel was spending time in a large (30+) House Sparrow flock, as often is the way with Dickcissels. The flock was very skittish so it took a while to find the bird even though it had enough yellow (immature male) to stick out from the crowd once you found it. I saw a Dickcissel in Central Park in 2008, the only other one I saw in NYC.

Hummingbirds are another story: I've seen quite a few Rufous this year, mainly on the Pacific Northwest trip but also in Yonkers in November. A Yonkers Rufous Hummingbird in 2001 spawned my first web page and I've pursued a mini project of photographing NYC hummingbirds. This Rufous is an immature female and was found on December 14th. It's on the north side of the American Museum for Natural History - i.e. the cold side - with no direct sun but some reflected sun. Perhaps the micro-environment has kept the hardy plants flowering on which this Rufous is depending on for it's short-term survival. A lot of vagrant Rufous in this area make it into the first few days of January but disappear soon after, so I will try and see it again on Jan 1st.

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