Thursday, October 22, 2009

American Redstart

This is an American Redstart. It is either a first year bird, or a female. I participate in a Maine Audubon on-line list service. Members enter sightings of birds around the state to a web service which in turn, distributes the information to participants. Part of the objective is to give birders locations of rare or unusual birds in a timely fashion so that they can jump into their vehicles and go have looks for themselves. It's kind of a birders tornado chasing service. I have gone to see birds based on the information provided myself. I have also developed some fun and interesting friends this way. Most of these relationships are on-line only, but none the less richer. I learn a tremendous amount from reading the posts folks submit. One of the beauties of the posts is that it gives a reader a finger on the pulse of local birds. By paying attention to what birds are being seen on a daily basis, a reader can have a pretty good idea of what is around. Even the ordinary can be useful. Canada Geese, for example, are not around in the winter where there isn't open water. I've had January 1st sightings of Canada Geese because I live on the ocean in a cove that is shallow, but does not freeze (Oh please, don't let THIS be the year!).  I have also learned from reading the list serve posts that other geese that are rare often hang out with Canadas. So, when I see Canadas, I always look to see who's in the gaggle with them. I haven't seen anything unusual, but often people do. Lately, there have been rare Pink Footed Geese seen in Cumberland. Many people have come to Maine to see them based on the information provided on 'the list.' I have learned that some birds are not necessarily rare, but the time of year of a sighting can be very rare. This Redstart is a good example. I posted a question about it on the list serve and recieved all kinds of responses, many of them pointing out how rare it is to see them this late in the year here. Usually, they have all migrated. My identification of the species was confirmed by the list members, but not whether or not it was female or 1st year. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to a beginner like me when the most knowledgable people around, who are on 'the list,' disagree about an identification.
     At first, I found this urksome. Now, I'm sort of glad because that means that there is room at the table for a rookie. I have posted here a lot of shots of this bird for identification reasons, in case someone doesn't believe me, or wants to pick a fight. Birding people can be like that. At one point, there were three of these birds here all at once. These photos could be different birds, actually. They were very cute and spritely, hopping quickly from branch to branch and then dissappearing. This made it difficult to photograph them, even though I saw them frequently over a four day stretch. This is another reason I posted all of these shots. I am using these darling birds as pawns to pat myself on the back.


  1. R-

    Wonderful images - glad I took a look. The pink aspens are beautiful.


  2. Loved the little bird. Have you seen any cardinals lately ?
    I hav'nt and am wondering why. Love the mtns. in the photos.

  3. Robin,
    First I enjoy your pictures and blog. I'll add my opinion to the great divide over the age and sex of the redstarts, but I think you have at least two birds in your photos, with one being an immature male since there appears to be an orange tint to the patches on the side of the breast and the remiges. (There's a term for your Funk & Wagnalls). The other is more likely an immature female because of the smaller yellow patches and immatures are normally the later migrants. However to be sure you'd have to have the bird in your hand.
    Maybe they'll fly across the New Meadows so I can see them tomorrow.

  4. Excellent photos Robin! I agree with John on one definitely being a first winter male and the other possibly being a immature female.

    It is wonderful you have photos to PROVE your sighting. Everyone wants proof these days else you are called a liar.

    John Briggs

  5. Wonderful images. Love that first one the most though. Good work.