Saturday, November 10, 2007

Watch Out For The Dirty Birds!

You might be wondering what I meant by using the term "Dirty Birds" in the title. I am referring to birds that are found on the ground, in places like fields and parking lots, that have an overall drab color which allows them to blend in with their surroundings.

In the past, I would tend to overlook birds like the ones in the photos. If I saw what looked like an empty field, I probably wouldn't bother scanning it with my binoculars. I figured "who wants to look at a field full of dirt"? These days, I search open fields and lots more carefully.
I was driving past this parking lot at Hammonasset Park, on a cold and cloudy day last week, when I noticed a glimmer of movement out of the corner of my eye. You can barely notice the little brown birds in the above photo, but...

a closer look reveals two Horned Larks and a Snow Bunting searching for a mid-morning snack.

When I returned to my hometown of Portland, CT, there were several hundred American Crows in a pumpkin field off of Route 17, that caught my attention. I almost didn't notice that there was a dozen drab little birds quietly feeding across the way.
It turns out that they were American Pipits. I've never seen American Pipits in Portland before. I probably didn't see them in Portland because I just didn't look carefully enough. If I hadn't scanned what looked like an empty portion of the field, I never would have noticed these pipits sunken down in the soil.
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If you see an open field or grassy lot that looks to be empty, take a closer look. You never know, there might just be a few interesting birds waiting to be discovered.
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Have you ever been surprised to find a bird in what looked to be an empty lot or field?

13 comments:

John said...

Finding them (and identifying them) is pretty hard in fields like that. Even a good scan can miss a lot.

Cathy said...

Yes! You know, Larry - this is a metaphor for so much in life. There may be magic in what appears to be the most mundane setting - natural and social. Be still - wait, watch and listen. You never know . . .

Larry said...

john-I find that especially true with sandpipers.-I don't have a decent scope and identifying them with binoculars can be tough for me.

Cathy-Gee Cathy I didn't think of that.-It might have made for an interesting post! Nice observation and comment.

PA-Birder said...

Snow Buntings have been a nemesis bird for me over the past couple of years. No matter how many fields I look for them, I just can't find them. Then someone else reports seeing 6 or 7 of them in the same field the next day! Sometimes it goes like that.
Vern

Mary said...

Yes! A solitary sandpiper in a sediment pond next to a car dealership. It blended with the soil so well.

You have a good eye! I will never overlook an open field again. You found some very cool, dirty birds!

Jayne said...

Wow Larry! I am impressed with your visual acuity! I've never seen any of these but the crows!

Larry said...

pa-birder-Lapland Longspur has been that bird for me recently.

Mary-It's tough to scan every field but just because one looks to be empty doesn't mean it always is.-You've got to keep an eye on your local bird reports in conjunction with your searches so that you'll know what to be on the lookout for.

jayne-I never saw this stuff either until I started to read reports and search for it.

Trixie said...

Nifty! What great birds to find. I really liked this post.

Veery said...

Winter, drab fields, and gray skies can make birding feel a bit dull, but I am learning more each year how cool winter birding can be.

It is amazing how birds like Horned Larks and Snow Buntings can blend so well.

Great post!

mon@rch said...

Love all those dirty birds but wonder how many spam postings you got from this!

Larry said...

trixie-thanks

veery-In some ways I like witer birding.-It's easier to focus on one particular plan as opposed to spring migration when you want to be everywhere at once.

Monarch-I didn't think of that. Maybe I should.-none yet though.

dguzman said...

Like the other PA-Birder, snow buntings and horned larks have eluded me for a couple of years. I've meticulously searched open fields (especially after they put the poo on them) to no avail. But I'm encouraged by your photos to keep on looking!

sarala said...

Yes to your question. I was out photographing one of our public housing projects as it was being demolished and I saw some kildeer happily hanging out in some puddles in the vacant lot left behind. It surprised me. Here is my photo if you are interested.
http://sharala.blogspot.com/2007/06/shutterday-little-bird.html