Date: 3/10/18 5:53 pm From: Joseph C. Neal <joeneal...> Subject: R CROSSBILLS AND G-H JUNCO AT HOBBS VC TODAY
Both Red Crossbills and the Gray-headed Junco were present at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area visitor center today, around by the feeders. Crossbills were not going to feeders, but we saw them up in the Shortleaf Pines and also perched in leafless deciduous trees (best views). The junco made a couple of extended visits, mainly on the ground under the feeders at the southwest corner of the vc. There were several observers present this morning who had good looks at both species.
There were others at the vc who wondered what was going on – what with all the bins, scopes, and cameras. One couple, apparently from the Far West somewhere, asked Hobbs personnel. When told we were hot on the trail of a Gray-headed Junco, they were nonplussed. Then when told there were also Red Crossbills, ditto – nonplussed. But when they stepped up to the windows and saw all the Northern Cardinals, they just went wild with excitement. So I assume they were from west of the Rockies.
Isn’t that just a wonderful explanatory event that goes to the heart of what keeps us out there day after day. Considering all of the cardinals we’ve seen, we could all go out to Washington state and become big birding celebs.
The bulk of the birds visiting the feeders this morning were as follows in order of abundance: Pine Siskin, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, with a few others: Pine Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves. At least a couple of hundred birds. I mention this because while keeping out a sharp-eye for the Gray-headed Junco, all of a sudden there was a mass exodus of all birds, from the feeders, bushes, grass, shrubs etc. They came past us in rapid flocks, streaming east. Then there were ZERO birds at the feeders.
They high-tailed it at full speed right over the parking lot. Trying to see what was happening, I noticed that Joan Reynolds had ducked to avoid being impaled as they flew right by her. I figured a feral cat was stalking around somewhere, but then a Sharp-shinned Hawk came into view and perched in the trees near the feeders. For a few seconds we had a great view of the perched sharpie, then off it went, soaring over us. And eventually everyone returned, including the Gray-headed Junco.