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!