Varied Thrush 1/19/08
byronkbutler_06 at comcast.net
byronkbutler_06 at comcast.net
Sun Jan 20 01:58:31 EST 2008
Maggie and I drove to Nancy Hicks's house today (1/19/08), our three-hour drive being extended by poor road conditions due lake effect snow. Yet it was a nice adventure on a cold, wintery day. The numerous cars and pick-up trucks that had gone off the road along the way were constant reminders to pay attention to the road.
Arriving safely at Nancy's house, we searched in vain for the Varied Thrush for 20-30 minutes before we had a chance encounter with Don Dykema, a neighbor who had come to fill Nancy's feeders while she was away from the house. This attention to the feeders was to ensure a food source for the thrush in the 10-degree F cold with wind-chill as low as -20F.
Don informed us that "Vinnie," short for Vinnie the Vagrant [sounds like a Chicago gangster to me] was at his house about one hundred yards away. "He's been camped out there all day." Arriving a the Dykema house a few minutes later, Maggie spotted the beautiful adult male thrush almost immediately. We were able to observe Vinnie almost continuously for the next two hours.
When on the snow under the feeders, Vinnie spent a lot of time standing on one foot, alternating them presumably due to the cold. It appeared that the mechanism birds have for keeping their feet warm, counter-current exchange, was not working well. Other birds seen on the ground, juncos and cardueline finches, did not behave similarly. I did not notice Vinnie behaving in the same manner when perched on tree limbs.
The Dykemas yard also has interesting black squirrels. These squirrels and Vinnie foraged in the same location under hanging feeders. When the thrush go too close to the squirrels they would lunge at it. I captured one of these interactions with my camera.
By tomorrow evening I will a have a few of my best photos of the bird uploaded to my webpage at Webshots.com. Within that website, Search on: byronbutler.
Note: it is possible that the Varied Thrush spent all day today at the Dykema house and never showed at Nancys house.
Don and wife, Chris, were most gracious hosts while we were at their house. Maggie and I enjoyed their company very much.
>From Montague, we drove south to the Kitchel-Lindquist Preserve at Grand Haven, arriving there just after 5:00 pm ET. As soon as we arrived we saw a bird that could have been the Townsends Solitaire. The size, shape and basic coloration was right, but we saw no specific field marks in our very brief look. We were unable relocate the bird after about 50 minutes in blowing snow. We left at 5:53 pm. During the time we were there we identified only a few flyover Ring-billed Gulls.
Today we drove 300 miles in daylight without seeing a single starling, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, or House Sparrow. The only birds we saw from the highway was a flock of American Crows going to roost. The high temperature was 11F and almost the entire day was windy and snowing. After leaving Grand Haven we continued south to St. Joseph where we stopped at Schus Grill & Bar for a nice dinner by the fireplace.
Birds seen at Nancys house: [We did not attempt exact counts as we kept looking for Vinnie.]
Canada Geese (very vocal, calling east of Nancy's house)
Downy Woodpecker (2+)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (1 adult male)
Pileated Woodpecker (1, heard drumming, later heard calling; did not see)
Black-capped Chickadee (2+)
Tufted Titmouse (4+)
White-breasted Nuthatch (2+, maybe several more)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (1-2)
Northern Cardinal (2; m/f pair)
Dark-eyed Junco (10+)
Common Redpoll (6-10)
American Goldfinch (6-10)
We saw some of the same, but no new, species save for Vinnie, at the Dons & Chriss house.
Thanks to all of you who previously posted information on the Varied Thrush and Townsends Solitaire and to those who responded to my emails. We found the Muskegon County Nature Club website very useful.
Byron & Maggie Butler
Chesterton, Porter Co., Indiana
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