Thursday, June 16, 2005

Virginia Rail, Grosbeak and more!

We took a walk the other day along our favorite trail and saw a bird we could not identify. We checked our Washington bird book, but there were no dark birds that looked like the one we had seen. Later in the week, we went to the Wild Bird Store to buy some black oil sunflower seeds (the kind all the birds just love) and to check out other birding paraphernalia. While we were there we talked with the most knowledgeable employee -- who said she thought she could identify the bird by the way we described it. She said she thought it was a Virginia Rail. (It's not even listed in our birding book.) When she showed us the picture, the bird had the right shape, but not the right color. And, that's when we realized we had seen a juvenile. Sure enough a photo of the juvenile absolutely clinched it. A Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola). It's an interesting looking marsh bird. Quite secretive. So, it was great that we had the presence of mind to photograph it.

Virginia Rail
Later on the way back on the trail we noticed a mama duck and her babies. Oh boy, were they ever cute. They were cuddled up underneath her, peaking out while she slept. We took a picture of that too.

Mama Duck
At home, the birds have been enjoying the black oil sunflower seeds. Our lawn is littered with the shells. One of our favorite visitors is the Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus). He's quite beautiful, and his mate is as lovely with a more light yellow chest, and streaks above her eyes. Here is the male.

Black-headed Grosbeak
And finally, our sweet hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) continue to dart about and fan the air before the feeder, as if alighting upon a flower.


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