Thursday, October 27, 2016

Snow birds moving South #phenology

Junco in April snow
Junco in April snow

Yesterday afternoon for the first time this season, there were juncos hopping across the deck. Some snow birds migrate into Minnesota for the Winter. At the feeder, house finches(?), I think, but maybe purple finches, are showing up from time to time. When I approach a window for a better look, the splash of purple flies away. I'll keep trying to get a better look for more certain identification. A scan of the comparison table below gives an indication of how much time I may have to spend with field guides. I think I've discovered yet another way to train myself to "pay attention." (All photos J. Harrington)

house finch purple finch
small-bodied; wings are short, making the tail seem long by comparison large and chunky
fairly large beaks and somewhat long, flat heads powerful, conical beaks
relatively shallow notch in its tail tail seems short and is clearly notched at the tip
Adult males are rosy red around the face and upper breast, with streaky brown back, belly and tail Male Purple Finches are delicate pink-red on the head and breast, mixing with brown on the back and cloudy white on the belly
house finch? purple finch?
? (March 2015)
purple finch? house finch?
? (December 2014)

Birds Again


Jim Harrison, 1937 - 2016


A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.


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