Saturday, February 18, 2017

February birds at Van Cortlandt Park

A male Northern Cardinal splashes red and orange onto the browns of
dormant pants and the white of remaining snow.

There are mainly common birds to be found at this time of year, like this
White-throated Sparrow.

But even common birds hold striking beauty. And if you look closely at this
female Northern Cardinal- she has an orange eyebrow! That orange eyebrow
is not illustrated in my 2003 Eastern Sibley or my 2010 Eastern Peterson; I was
able to find online images of other female cardinals with orange eyebrows, so it
is probably a less common trait displayed in some percentage of the population.
Point being, if you look more closely at something seen often, you might see
something unexpected.

There are other birds, less common, that can be found too. This Rusty Blackbird
dazzles with its mix of rusty brown and subtle blue.

And there are rare birds too (sometimes... rarely!). The small bird in the
center of the picture is a Cackling Goose. In the picture, there are 14
Canada Geese, but I counted a total of 97 on the lake. Additionally, there
were about 700 more Canada Geese on the Parade Grounds. I did not see any
obviously different geese on the Parade Grounds. In this region at least,
the Cackling is a bird not often found (but is one of the most often
"rare" geese found).

Seen from behind, the Cackling Goose (center right) is clearly smaller than the
Canada Goose (center left). 

In this picture, you can see the difference in bill length and head shape
between the Cackling Goose (left) and the Canada Goose (right)

Full eBird list here:

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