Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Rare Birds Appearing in November
November 12, 2021
By Steve Grinley
For those of you that have kept their hummingbird feeder going this late in the season it might comfort you to know that a Rufous hummingbird has been visiting a feeder in Brookline, Massachusetts over the past couple of weeks. It was banded, disappeared for a few days, but returned again this week.
Our own Barrett Bacall also had a Rufous-type hummingbird coming to his feeder a couple of weeks ago. It was assumed to be a late ruby-throated until he brought in a photo. I could immediately see that it was wrong for a ruby-throat and it was confirmed to be a Rufous/Allen’s hummingbird type.
A late ruby-throated hummingbird was visiting a feeder in Bedford, NH a few days ago. It represented the latest New Hampshire record for a ruby-throated hummingbird in the state.
Margo and I ventured out of the county to see the Brookline hummer. On the way, we stopped in Lexington to see a European goldfinch. It is most likely an escaped bird, but Margo had never seen one before. Small populations of this goldfinch have established themselves in New York City and Chicago.
Now you likely think that our male goldfinch in breeding plumage is stunning in its yellow and black attire, but this European goldfinch is a showstopper! Its white and brown patterned body with sharp black marking on the head, highlighted by a fire engine red face is just mesmerizing. It was feeding low in weedy patch and was quite cooperative. Margo got some very nice photos!
The Brookline hummer was less cooperative, darting about the tall trees in the small back yard and choosing not to visit the three feeders spaced around the yard. There were a number of other people present, which kept the bird skittish. It was clearly not a photo opportunity for us that day. Margo went back down another day when there was no one else present and it obliged by sitting and feeding at the feeders for her.
Another area rarity in recent weeks was a wood stork. This huge black and white stork of Florida and the Deep South was first spotted on Cape Ann near Niles Pond in East Gloucester. The lone observer saw it fly in, land on a nearby lawn, and watched it take off soon after.
A few days later the bird turned up in Horn Pond in Woburn. A number of birders went to see it the day that it was reported. The bird was apparently sluggish and a concerned citizen contacted the New England Wildlife Center. The next morning it was captured and taken for evaluation. The bird was emaciated and dehydrated and wounded in one foot. It is responding to care and will receive continued treatment and will, hopefully, be released in its native habitat.
Closer to home, there has been a Western Kingbird for at least 10 days on Plum Island, first spotted by MaryMargaret Halsey of Newburyport. This bird is mostly cooperative as it feeds on berries, crabapples, and what insects it can find across from the Maintenance Area on the Parker River Refuge. A few patient minutes may be required to see the bird moving through the higher branches of the trees along the road, or hawking insects out of the air.
Nearby, many birders were also rewarded with sightings of one or two American Bitterns feeding in the marsh along the dike from the Maintenance Area. Also nearby have been two pied-billed grebes and two American Coot swimming in the North Pool and seen from the Overlook.
Also continuing from last week, the Cattle Egret was still being spotted this week at the Artichoke Dairy farm on Rogers Street in West Newbury. November is always a great month to find some rare birds!