Discovering new places to bird often gives us chances of identifying birds new to us. Debbie and I took a quad ride up the hill the other day. We were trying to find a little micro-habitat that may hold birds of a different kind. So what we do is keep an eye out for something out-of-place in the existing landscape. An area that is unusually green. A place where the brush and trees are taller or even a pila which could be a source water.
Today we see such a place on top of the hill by the highway. There’s some green trees and a pila. LBJs (little brown jobs) are all over the place. Watching them it’s pretty clear why they are there. The metal lid on the pila is sweating from the heat of the sun. The birds are gathering around the edges of it and are pecking at little drops of water forming. Even though most desert birds get enough moisture from what they feed on to survive they won’t pass up a free drink. First we see beautiful
We’ve seen these birds before. Black-chinned Sparrows, at about 5″, are pretty small birds. They inhabit dry, lowland areas and are extremely skittish. Their call is a high, thin seep which they use to keep in touch with one another.
Then we spot another favorite of ours, the Black-throated Sparrow.
Black-throated and Black-chinned Sparrows like a lot of the same things in their lives so these are birds we see together often. The call of the similar sized Black-throated Sparrow is a faint tinkling note.
And then, all of a sudden it happened!
What’s that over there Debbie? Not a Chipping Sparrow. Not a Brewer’s Sparrow. No. By now the weather is getting hot. Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me but this bird is something different. Something new! Now I’m flipping out inside. Instantly remembering back to the Varied Bunting incident when my batteries went dead (camera’s). That shot I missed and pained over for 2 years. I glance at the camera’s settings and battery strength, all good to go. The bird is still there. I click-off 2 shots and the bird is a memory. Gone just like that. I can’t wait to get home to see the photos.
I know this bird is not glamorous and all that but this is a lifer bird for me and Debbie. Identifying and photographing a new species is part of what makes birding so rewarding. After much research through some forums I belong to, this bird was identified as a Lark Bunting.
Lark Buntings breed in the mid-west U.S. so I guess we don’t have much of a chance of seeing the male in breeding plumage here in Baja Sur where some describe them as rare in winter. Breeding birds (males) are black with white wing patches.