Wilson Post Blogs
Our Feathered Friends - Sept. 12
The next time you spot a Bluebird, make sure of what you are getting to see. Of course our Eastern Bluebird has a blue back with a reddish breast, but what if the bird is blue all over ? Most likely you will be looking at an Indigo Bunting which is very similar in size and their territory may overlap. Just maybe, what if the "blue" bird has a thick beak like a Cardinal, and two brown wing bars to boot, you might be looking at a Blue Grosbeak. I am hoping that nobody would confuse these birds with a Bluejay as the Bluejay is a one of the first birds learned when starting to take up birdwatching.
The Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea) is one of our beautiful birds of blue and can be found out the eastern side of the Cedars of Lebanon State Park toward the small community of Norene. I was with my mentor Bill Senter on a bird count, when I first spotted of this bird was when he flew up behind me on the road and didn't need binoculars to identify it. Just lucky you could say because my old Minolta camera, the film kind, was in my hand and ready to capture its beauty. Somewhere in my old slides he is waiting to be discovered again.
He is a medium sized seed eater that is a member of the same family as the Northern Cardinal. With the male a vivid blue, the female wears a brown ensemble and both have the double wing bar and the thick heavy bill. You will find the birds to be 5 ½-7 ½-inches in length, with a 10-11-inch wingspan.
They will breed mainly in the southern United States in fields overgrown with brambles, in stream-side thickets, orchards, and even shrubbery around houses. His mate will build a flimsy nest in a small tree or bush. Most often she will place a dried snakeskin into the nest, where she will incubate the three to four, blusish-white eggs that will hatch in about fourteen days, with the young birds fledging in another 14 days. This is exactly the kind of area that we found him in close to Norene, beside a small stream. Myself, I have no idea what purpose the snakeskin has, unless to ward off Brown-headed Cowbirds.
The Blue Grosbeak is an early morning singer, and also in the late afternoon with a rapid finch like warble. Their call note is a loud whistled, "Spink."
I was working on my article when Carole Young called wanting to take a ride out toward Granville. I hoped maybe to clear my mind, that a short trip would help remove the cobwebs where I sometimes get “writers block.” There was a field over the bridge next to the Cumberland River that was set up as a small wildlife refuge where I pulled the car into. After a short walk down the path there, I did a Barred Owl call with no intention of calling an Owl. Just as I had hoped for, there were Crows and Bluejays exploding from the trees, trying to locate the hooter that was invading their property. Owls are mortal enemies to Jays and Crows. Before too long, they must have figured out that it was me doing the hooting, and they probably were ticked off about that, so they left.
Most of the time when you see Thistle plants you think of Goldfinch. In the refuge there were hundreds of thistles in bloom and probable twenty Ruby-throated Hummingbirds all over the plants. If you get out and about there is always something new for you to learn.
Like I mentioned in last week’s story, I have a plethora of Hummers, fighting for their place in the lunch line here at my home. I just added another feeder so there is still fighting going on here if you would like to stop by for a peek.