Friday, December 7, 2012

"Fri-D" - Red CrossbillS (sic)

[Male type 3 Red Crossbill, Cape May Point State Park, NJ, November 25, 2012. A little flock descended into the pines along the exit road to the park and fed for a bit. Click to enlarge.]

Here it is, December. Already by the end of November you reach a point where it feels over, not just the temperature, but the birds, too. Hardly a migrant to be found, though I guess Red Crossbills can count as migrants or wanderers at least, and a very few Red-winged Blackbirds and Yellow-rumped Warblers moved across the sky like they were going someplace the last time I was in Cape May Point. Birds, it is said, are migrating every day of the year. But the days of going out and expecting to find a lot of new birds are clearly done until spring.

So now what? I don't have cable, and though I love to read, not when the sun's shining. Go see the same ducks on the duck ponds and same sparrows in the thickets? Dig hard for a rarity, like the Western Grebe recently found on Cape May Harbor? If it's rare birds you need, you have a problem, because rare birds are rare.

There's always stuff to work on. Like, the calls of the various types of Red Crossbills - there's a winter project for you. Types 2, 3 and 10 have been heard in Cape May, with most by far having been the irrupting western Type 3. If you haven't polished your flight call ear for the subtleties found in a single note, here's your chance. Which was it, pip-pip, tik-tik or whit-whit? Good luck with that. The truth is, there is only a small handful of people who, when they report a particular type of Red Crossbill, I believe them, though if you listen to one type and then the other, you can hear the differences. Read the linked article, and like I said, good luck!

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