Friday, October 2, 2009

WHINE POWER!

Sometimes the unbelievable happens. But only rarely does it happen twice, in exactly the same way, many states apart, to two different people…simply because they both whined.
At least I think it has happened, though it will require the judgement of a better birder than myself to confirm this to my satisfaction. I know the facts of the incident are true, though I'm not completely certain about my conclusion. Feel free to weigh in with your own opinion. In fact, feel free to not believe me about the unfolding of the event itself; I might not believe me either if I were in your place.
Here's the tale…
About 9:45 this morning, I blog-hopped my way to Jayne's "Journey Through Grace" site. Her post was about sitting on her deck and whining to her husband over the fact others had migrating rose-breasted grosbeaks appearing at their feeders, while she has not seen one all spring and summer. Something of a bummer and a bit of a social snub to Georgia birdwatcher.
Moments after her whining, Jayne looks up and there, staring her in the face, is a juvenile male rose-breasted grosbeak! Either an astonishing coincidence, or else the shade of ol' J.J. Audubon had heard her whine and worked some magic.
Amused and totally sympathetic, at 9:57 I sent a comment: "Well, at least you've now had a grosbeak…I haven't seen one here all year! If it weren't raining, I'd try a whine on the deck myself."
Five minutes later—I swear, five minutes!—I look up from my desk at the feeder just beyond the window…and there is a strange bird feasting on sunflower seeds. A very grosbeak-like strange bird, shouldering aside the house finches and titmice, looking furtively like a nervous teenager making off with all the courtesy mints in the bowl on a hotel's check-out counter. No way!
It had just stopped raining and was almost as dark out as it had been at 7:30 this morning when I let Moon the dog out for a quick moment to do her business. Too dark for much of a photo, certainly—even with the camera's ISO cranked to 1600. But not too dark for me to see it sure looked like a grosbeak—though it appeared to be more striped and possibly buff-colored, though this latter business was impossible to tell for sure in the low light. Still…
The possible-grosbeak got startled by something and flew off. But an hour later, the bird returned, chowing down for a few moments before a red-bellied woodpecker ousted him from the feeder. Not long enough for a photo, but long enough that I got a better look in better light and thought if it wasn't a grosbeak—perhaps a female—I had no idea what else it might be. I was now beginning to hear faint strains of the theme music from the Twilight Zone.
My photo op came this afternoon. Again I looked up from the window and found the probable-grosbeak looking at me…or so it appeared. I grabbed the camera. The light was okay, except coming from the opposite side of the feeder—plus I was shooting through the window with, given the light and angle, a fair amount of glare. I shot anyway and hoped for the best.
So that's the story. I've looked and looked again, checked field guides and internet photos, studied and compared, and I think the bird is a young male rose-breasted grosbeak. In some of the shots, you can just see the beginnings of the distinctive rose-pink coloration in its otherwise buff feathers.
I could be wrong, though—fooled by wishful thinking. It wouldn't be unfamiliar territory. So feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. And maybe the photos aren't good enough to make the call—like I said, they're not the best.
But if I'm right…you can believe I'm going to make whining part of my daily routine. I think Jayne onto something useful here!

26 comments:

Wanda said...

I believe you and I may just start whining myself...although I did have several visit the feeders in the spring.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Finally a good reason to whine! You whine, bird dines . . . I love the first photo where you can see the sunflower seed in his beak.

Just never know what you will learn on these blogs. Whine away!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

I never saw a single grosbeak this year—and maybe haven't yet. But by doggies, I've come to believe in the Power of Positive Whining!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

We will have no whine, until it's time…and now's the time! No need to feel guilty. If that's not a real blogging educational moment, I don't what more you expect!

And that bird—grosbeak or whatever—was the most nervous, watchful, seed-filching feather grower I've ever seen. Every second he was at the feeder, there was a seed in his mouth…the difficult photo would have been the one lacking a seed.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ -

Wow, excellent outcome to a good morning whine.
I wonder what else that will work on? :-)
Love Gail
peace......

KGMom said...

Well, I am not that better birder. I am just happy having any birds around our feeders. We get birds in droves--mostly red finches and various sparrows. But today, I did see a titmouse--the first of the fall season. I don't see them during warm weather. And I have begun to see quite a few goldfinches.
To my knowledge, we have never had a rose-breasted grosbeak. So, you whiners can whine away.
I will content myself with what little bits of nature stop by here.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I have no idea how effective a regular habit of heartfelt whining could be—but I'm planning on doing some serious experimentation!

Have a good autumn weekend. :-)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

I'm not all that good a birder on a lot of species; at best, I'd given myself an overall rating of mediocre.

Moreover, I'm frankly not comfortable that the bird in the photos is a rose-breasted grosbeak…I just can't come up with a better I.D.

Goldfinches and titmice hang around here all summer. No grosbeaks, though. I'd like to claim this one and be correct—but we'll see…

You really ought to try a good whine.

Jayne said...

Oh, you know I am laughing as I type this!!! Imagine... whining as a way to get the birds you want in your yard! ;c) This is priceless Grizz, just priceless, and yes, that fully *is* a juvenile male (probably a straggling cousin of the ones on Chickadee?) Oh, you've made my day!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

I'm so glad you're getting the same kick out of this that I did—and it happened exactly as I told it…within 5 minutes of my making that comment on your blog, there he was, the first grosbeak I've seen here all year! Incredible!

I'm really, glad, too, that you confirm my I.D. I WANTED it to be a rose-breasted grosbeak, not for my sake, but for the story's sake. So you've made my morning!

And you're right, it is priceless!

giggles said...

Wish I could confirm your ID.... Alas, to my inexpert eyes, I would have called it a finch or a wonky sparrow and left it at that....

I haven't seen that Screech Owl in the back yard, only heard it. I will start whining NOW!

Richard said...

Nice young male (1st winter or 1st fall) Rose-breasted Grosbeak you have there. You can tell it's a male from the pinkish/orange breast and also the the black cap. The young males have a black cap and the females a brownish one.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Unfortunately Scribe we do not have grossbeaks here in the UK so I cannot pass an opinion - but I do know that coincidence is a strange but common phenomenon - so I believe your story in all its elements.
Once I was standing in the largest iron ore mine in the world - at Kirkenes on the Russian border with Norway, way above the Arctic circle when a lady came up to me and asked me if I was English, where I came from - and having found that out asked me if I knew her sister-in-law who lived in our town. Yes I did.
So - your joint sighting of grossbeaks is just an amazing coincidence.
Thanks so much for your interesting reply to my blog on animal killing for food.

Scott said...

I'm not a good enough birder to offer much help with the identity of your streaked wonder, but I did love your line:
"...looking furtively like a nervous teenager making off with all the courtesy mints in the bowl on a hotel's check-out counter."
Perfect!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Well, I've seen plenty of rose-breasted and evening grosbeaks in Michigan and elsewhere over the years—but haven't a clue re. juveniles. This didn't quite seem to fit the fields guides, either, in their illustrations of juveniles. Plus, I didn't trust my own capability to conjure up a grosbeak via wishful thinking because of Jayne's post.

Now I am pretty sure you ought to be an excellent whiner when you put your mind to it—and a screech owl seems like a dandy reason. So, whine away and report back.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Richard…

Ah, a second birder (Jayne being the first) says young male grosbeak…so I think that locks it! And yes, Richard, it was exactly those tiny pinkish splotches on the breast that convinced me this might really be a male RB grosbeak. (I had no idea about the cap differences.) But I was only about 51/49 percent convinced I'd gotten it right.

I've been gone all day, so I don't know whether it hung around or not. But I'll try and watch tomorrow.

Thank you for letting me know…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

I've have a few of those impossible odds coincidences happen to me, too…though it doesn't make the next time around any less astonishing. I assure you, the facts are exactly as stated—but it still seems crazy impossible.

You're welcome for the comment, BTW…though I had to drag myself off the soapbox.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Scott…

No worries on being a less than expert birder—I'm in the same boat. But I figured there were those who could make a positive I.D. among the readers…and they have.

I'm glad you got a kick out of the line. And that's exactly they way the bird looked and acted.

giggles said...

"That locks it" Yes, I've recently heard that a sighting doesn't count unless at least two people have seen/heard it. Congratulations!!!!!!!!

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

I love coincedences like this, and to smile and know across the miles you were both doing the same thing.

I love fall colors, not on me as I'm a "summer" but in nature, my favorite. It's one of the things I appreciate about living here, Oregon has too many pines to change much...but I love pine needles in the summer sun, they ought to package that scent...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

I sure didn't trust my own ability on this one—but Jayne and Richard are bankable birders.

Young, male, RB grosbeak it is! (Was!)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Teri…

You're right on those pine needles…one of the great outdoor fragrances of all time! And you ought to be able to sleuth out a maple or aspen or mountain ash should you need a color fix every autumn.

Jain said...

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful note, Scribe. It was appreciated.

Hazel asked me to ask you to offer a little something extra to Moon tonight. That Hazel, she's always wrangling a treat for herself or some other dog.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

I will do that for Hazel, and for Moon, in memory of Bokka.

Jenn Jilks said...

You live in a delightful world, as we all do, but you manage to create some lively imaginations around it.

Except for the coincidental bird-thingie.

I could whine for sunshine, but I love the rain.

I could whine for grosbeaks, but I think it unlikely. The pileated woodpeckers were flying about harassing the cat. She was not amused, being kept indoors during our trip.

I did put up a bird feeder today. I shall cross my fingers.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

Now see…you have to believe in your whine. And you do have to whine. Faith without works is dead. Of course, it simply surprised me to no end—but maybe I believed and didn't realize it. Or something. I'm not sure whether pileated woodpeckers are included or not, though. Pileated woodpeckers are pretty ornery critters.