Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Adventures & Observations

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  Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Life Bird!

Published: February 08, 2018
Tags: Life List Happenings, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Hairy Woodpecker, Cooper's Hawk

Thanks to Kevin R's persistence and a friend of Alec's, I got a new life bird today!  Alec, Kevin, and I took a drive down to Meadville, Pennsylvania, where a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch was visiting the feeders of a wonderful birding couple.  This couple lives in a gated community and access to it is tricky.  We were very thankful to have been allowed into this morning's group of observers.

The finch is one of the three rosy-finch species that can be found in the United States.  It's the only species of the three that migrates and so is more prone to get off-course or possibly even wander.  And although here have been sightings of Gray-crowneds in the east, this will be the very first state record for Pennsylvania.

When we first arrived, Kevin quickly headed to the windows and found the finch without much ado.  It was apparently right on schedule, visiting the feeders during the first couple of hours in the morning and then habitually disappearing for the afternoon.  I love reliability!  We got good looks at the mostly brown finch as it slowly made its way down the tree where Kevin first spotted it.  Finally, it landed on the snow-covered ground right in front of the spacious windows, giving us all killer looks as it foraged under the feeders.  We were ecstatic - life bird for all three of us - and probably just about everyone in the room!

The bird was much larger than I was expecting - quite a bit heftier than the many nearby goldfinches.  The pink on its wings and belly was quite obvious and it was easy to see why it's called a Rosy-Finch.  Speculation is that it's a young male or a female of the Interior population, as opposed to the Coastal or Bering Sea populations.  Its light gray head and black forecrown was the feature the homeowner first noticed, causing his wife to alert a birding friend.

The finch was most cooperative, although skittish.  And I understand now why the finches were ALL so flighty: hawks were in the area!  A little later on, we had a Cooper's Hawk swoop through the yard, very close to the windows, scattering the birds everywhere!  I heard a Sharp-shinned was visiting now and then too.  Thankfully, the birds kept coming back to the feeders and we were rewarded with some lovely views of this misplaced finch.  

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Feeding just feet from us on the other side of the large windows.

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Perched

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Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

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Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

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We noticed some leucism in the primary feathers of this Hairy Woodpecker

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The young Cooper's Hawk - pausing between attacks

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