Saturday, November 24, 2012

"And the only poet is the wind,
a drifter
who walked in from the coast
with empty pockets
He stands on the road
at evening, making a sound
like a stone harp
by a handful of leaves...."
from The Stone Harp
John Haines
Thursday I went out on my lunch hour to photograph the
white tailed jackrabbits that have loped through my dreams
recently. While I encountered some, it was a flock of birds in the
spruce that spoke to me. I was initially uncertain if they
were Grosbeaks or Crossbirds but Red Crossbills they were.
One thing that confused me was that I kept seeing
Red Breasted Nuthatches in my camera. I had always
considered them the immobile resident birds of our front
yard spruce. Upon returning home some research told me
that they did indeed irrupt regularly moving about the
countryside, often in mixed species flocks. We do not see a
lot of bird species in the winter so these irruptions of birds 
 whether they be Snowy Owls, Mountain Ash seeking
Waxwings, or the flocks of Snow Buntings skittering across a cold
countryside are welcome additions to the prairie landscape.
The Crossbills are residents of the foothills near Calgary but I have
not seen one the the city for a couple of years perhaps they
are in town for dinner and a movie.Or a visit with their city cousins
the Nuthatches. There were perhaps 30-40 Crosbillls and
5-10 Nuthatches so I am not sure if that constitutes a true
irruption but it was fun.
I found this nest at the base of a spruce
in the mountains some years ago. There was a large flock of
Crossbills in the trees so I have assumed this in a Crossbill nest.
" the seasons pass
just outside their hearing
but what they died for has faded away
and become something quite different
past justice and injustice"
        from The Battlefield at Batoche
                            Al Purdy


Hilke Breder said...

Hi Guy, wonderful post! Awesome shots of the Red Crossbills and the Red-breasted Nuthatches on the snowy branches!

Guy said...

Hi Hilke

Thanks I was really happy to see them. I thought it was neat that you posted on crossbills at the same time.

All the best.

Roy Norris said...

Beautiful images Guy.
Nuthatches I can see often, but Crossbills I have only seen once and would love to see them as you do. Thanks for posting these lovely images.

Guy said...

Hi Roy

Thanks, I was really happy to have a chance to try some photos of the group.

All the best.

Julie G. said...

Wonderful sightings! Guy, your photographs are especially lovely! I have seen many Red-breasted Nuthatches this year, but have yet to spot a crossbill. I have heard they are in the area, so I will continue searching. I oohed and ahhed while scrolling through your superb photographs. Beautifully written post, as well!

Kelly said...

Oh wow!! These are fantastic photos. I loved the poem as well.

Guy said...

Thanks Julie

I have nor seen a lot of different birds this winter and I have never seen a flock of crossbirds in the city so they were a welcome sight.


Guy said...

Hi Kelly

I was very happy to have a chance to take photos of an entire flock feeding. And John Hanies is a favorite poet so I am glad you enjoyed it.


Kathie Brown said...

How wonderful that they "Irrupted" in your yard! Great pics and what fun!

Guy said...

Hi Kathie

It was great fun to see them the highlight of this winter's birding so far.