My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

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Life, Yard, Year Birds: Willet, Black-bellied Plover, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Published April 30, 2014
Tags: Life List Happenings, Willet, Black-bellied Plover, Lincoln's Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Yesterday, the timing was great when news came out that a Willet was being seen up in Wilson, NY. I was just wrapping up a work project and quickly did the math as to whether I'd be able to go out for this life bird and still keep my dinner plans. It looked good - as long as the bird cooperated...  and it did!

I made it out to Wilson to find not only this wonderful shorebird, a bird that has been on my wish list for a couple of years, but also six Black-bellied Plovers in full breeding plumage.  Wonderful!  The farm field had several large puddles and the shorebirds were all foraging around them. I've seen Black-bellied Plovers before, but never such nice views with them all decked out in their finest.

The rather plain and tan-colored Willet poked his long bill into the mud and water, wading to about mid-way on his long, blue-gray legs.  Every once in awhile, it would do a little bobbing thing, stretching upward with its neck - look around, perhaps for predators, and then resumed probing for prey of mollusks, crustaceans, insects, or small fish.

Willets are not uncommon; I just haven't had the good fortune to see one until now. They like beaches and mudflats, eastern birds sticking mainly to beaches.  I am guessing this is a western bird - but I'm not certain. At one point, after he actually walked CLOSER to me, he flew to a different pool of water and I was able to see the striking black and white pattern on his wings and hear his call. That was a treat!

Earlier in the morning, I noticed a Field Sparrow up on our deck eating seeds that had fallen from the feeders. I only see Field Sparrows here during migration and I wondered what else the bad weather system brought in. Sure enough, I caught sight of what looked to be a Lincoln's Sparrow - a first for our yard.  I finally got some acceptable photos and sent them to a few birders with much more experience than I.  They all eventually agreed that I had a Lincoln's.

Next, a gorgeous male Rose-breasted Grosbeak plopped down right in front of me outside my office window. It's so nice to have them back!  Now where are my Baltimore Orioles and House Wrens???  Maybe today...
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Willet
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Willet - a life bird
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Willet
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Willet
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Black-bellied Plovers
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Black-bellied Plover
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Lincoln's Sparrow - a yard first! This and the next 2 photos were taken through a screened window.
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Lincoln's Sparrow
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Field Sparrow - my first clue new migrants had landed
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Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male)