Tuesday, March 04, 2008

White-winged Crossbill!

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.

8 comments:

John said...

Wow. Congratulations on the milestone.

slybird said...

Sweet. Thats a species I have a strong desire to see. I only saw my first Reds just two summers ago. I have managed to miss WW so far.

mon@rch said...

That is such an amazing bird and so glad that the lady allowed you to come view it! One species that I have not seen this year!

Jochen said...

Not bad, not bad ...

Not bad at all!

Patrick Belardo said...

Thanks everyone! It was an exciting sighting and a bird that has been a bit of a jinx bird for me.

Jochen, do you get "Two-barred" Crossbills in Germany?

Jochen said...

Well, we get the same species in Europe but basically as a vagrant. They breed scarcely in Northern Finland, regularly from Russia eastwards, but that's a remote area to travel to.
Germany gets a few vagrant records almost each year but sometimes, they are absent for years. I have probably but not definitely seen two a few years back during an erruption year here in Germany, that's all.
So I'd really like another encounter...

Jess said...

hey! was there any special food in the feeder, or a standard mix?

Patrick Belardo said...

A standard mix from what I can tell in the pictures.