Today I found out a wonderful benefit of being the Great Backyard Bird Count state reviewer for NJ (Thanks Rob!). A woman in Long Branch (northern Jersey shore area) reported a White-winged Crossbill during the count. It was the only one for the state. I had written her for verification several weeks ago and I finally heard from her on Sunday. Sure enough, she sent along some fuzzy pictures of a female White-winged Crossbill. I spoke with her on the phone yesterday. She told me it's been coming to her feeder for two months now. I asked if she lived in a wooded area and she said she did not, but that she has several large trees in her yard. Then, I asked if I could come see it and she gave me permission. So, this morning I drove an hour or so down to Long Branch to look for the bird.
I pulled on to a somewhat busy street full of kids waiting for buses and parents waiting with their kids. Quaint older houses were lined up neatly with less than 20 feet separating each one. It was a typical suburban street with the bonus of having some wonderful, huge red cedar trees in many of the yards. The feeder was in the front yard hanging over a second floor balcony. With camera in hand, I waited and tried my best not to look like a pervert. A female House Finch scoped out the feeders for a minute. Then about 10 minutes after I arrived, the White-winged Crossbill flew in and began eating from a feeder suction-cupped to a window. This was both a life bird and my 300th NJ state bird.
She perched quite tamely there for quite a while. The way the feeder was hung, I couldn't get an angle where I could get a photo of the wing bars. Luckily, Susan, the kind woman who hosted the bird was home and she came to the window to let me in. I got some fuzzy pictures through the window with this one being the best one.
I was amazed at how tame it was. Susan spoke to me from a window not 5 feet from the bird and it didn't budge. This is a tough bird to come by in NJ, especially one coming to a feeder. Thanks to Susan for allowing me to come over. I apologize to the NJ birders reading this, but she doesn't want the location shared.