Friday, February 27, 2015

"Oregon" Junco in James City County

This "Oregon" Junco, a western sub-species of Dark-eyed Junco, is rare in this area and was near College Creek on the Colonial Parkway in James City County late this afternoon. The convex lower border to the dark hood and extensive pinkish-brown flanks and sides of the breast show even in this poor image in low light through the car windshield. The back is quite brownish. Another western sub-species, "Pink-sided," is very similar, but has a much lighter-colored hood and a distinct black mark between the eye and bill. Interestingly, the foreground bird also appears to have a dark hood with a convex lower edge...too bad there aren't more images...it resembles another form, "Cassiars" or as the Sibley guide lists it, "Canadian Rocky Mountain" form...males have grayish sides and the hood. The background bird appears to be a classic "Slate-colored" with no hood and a straight margin of gray across the breast and flanks, contrasting with the whitish undersides. So...could there be 3 forms of Dark-eyed Junco shown? The larger photo, though poor quality, when enlarged, appears to show as many as 7 in this flock with hooded/brown-backed/buff-sided characteristics! For more info on this remarkable group of birds, see www.juncoproject.org
Brian Taber

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Smith's Longspur

This Smith's Longspur, at Shenandoah Regional Airport in Augusta County, photographed here by Shirley Devan on Feb 25, represents a remarkable first record for Virginia. The bird was found 3 days ago and many birders have travelled to see it. A high arctic breeder, the species normally winters in the southern great plains.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ross's Geese

These rare Ross's Geese, only a second local record, found initially on Feb 21 by Bill Williams, were still at Little Creek Reservoir here in James City County yesterday, along with more than 1,000 other water birds of more than a dozen species.
Brian Taber

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lincoln's Sparrow

This rare Lincoln's Sparrow today was not far from the spot where the Vesper Sparrow, pictured below, was yesterday. It was smaller than the Song Sparrows with it and the very obvious whitish eye-ring, slight crest, small bill, gray face and black streaking on the back show up well, even though the picture was shot through the car windshield. The pose doesn't show the extensive fine dark streaking that was below. Hundreds of sparrows are feeding along roads in this snowy area.

Vesper Sparrow

This rare-for-our-area Vesper Sparrow was among dozens of White-throated, Song, Savannah, Chipping and Fox sparrows, along a snowy road here in James City County yesterday. Following snowfalls, the hungry birds crowd up to feed on the few inches of exposed grass and dirt by the pavement, where plowing and melting has occurred.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hermit Thrush

Despite frigid temperatures, this Hermit Thrush near Jamestown today found a sunny spot and some melted snow drinking water.