Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice Birds

Happy Winter Solstice ... the day the sun is lowest on the horizon in the northern hemisphere. Now the days will begin to lengthen once again as the sun appears higher in the sky each day.

I always wondered why birds would want to go to the arctic in the springtime. It is because the days are very long there in the summer ... the sun never sets at the height of summer. So the birds can forage for food for their new hatchlings 24 hours a day.

But in the arctic winter the sun never rises, so many birds come further south to seek food and warmth. That is why some birds can only be seen where I live in Idaho on a winter day. Yesterday I finally saw one such bird for the first time in my life.

Black Rosy-Finch

In the evening the Black Rosy-Finch seeks warmth and shelter in Cliff Swallow nests, or a cave or old mine shaft. The light was fading when they showed up to roost, but I managed to get a few photos and watched them through binoculars. I initially identified this as a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, but there are three species of Rosy-Finches, and upon further study, I now believe this is the Black, not Gray-crowned, Rosy-Finch. I'll have to go back to see and photograph the browner Gray-crowned sometime soon!

I also saw a Prairie Falcon while out looking for Snow Buntings. I've never seen a Snow Bunting and they have been seen nearby. I didn't see any.

If you enjoy birds and the natural world, I think you should watch "The Life of Birds" hosted by David Attenborough and produced by the BBC. The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, and all of the David Attenborough shows depict nature in all of its majesty and intricate diversity.

1 comment:

Cat in the Foxgloves said...

I'm glad you finally got to capture a Grey Crowned Rosy Finch!