26 May 2022

Surprise Bird

Monday, May 17th, 2021

A lovely hike with dog this clear, birdy morning. Before we’d barely left the switchback, in fact, I had more than a dozen species on my list—including a strange, unexpected bird perched in the big Russian olive tree.

A huge-beaked bird it was, but no Black-headed Grosbeak. Every several seconds it emitted a single bright note, a call I didn’t recognize. Had to be another grosbeak, but which could it be? Not until we got back home and I searched the Cornell Lab site for Utah grosbeaks did I realize what I’d seen: an Evening Grosbeak, a female or immature male.

. Every several seconds it emitted a single bright note, a call I didn’t recognize. Had to be another grosbeak, but which could it be? Not until we got back home and I searched the Cornell Lab site for Utah grosbeaks did I realize what I’d seen: an Evening Grosbeak, a female or immature male.

Decades ago, back in Maine, great flocks of Evening Grosbeaks descended during winter irruptions, and I got to know them very well. And then one year they didn’t return, and I hadn’t seen one since. Not in a span of at least 30 years—and never, I think, a solo individual.

Good to see you, great-beaked bird. I hope you find more of your kind.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 7:05 a.m. (8:05 MDT), I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Song Sparrow** (v)
2. Lazuli Bunting
3. Lesser Goldfinch** (v)
4. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay
5. Red-breasted Nuthatch (v)
6. Spotted Towhee
7. Black-chinned Hummingbird
8. American Robin* (v)
9. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
10. Evening Grosbeak†
11. Chipping Sparrow
12. Rock Wren
13. Rock Pigeon (2)
14. Black-capped Chickadee
15. Warbling Vireo (v)
16. Black-billed Magpie* (v)
17. Black-throated Gray Warbler (v)
18. Orange-crowned Warbler (v)
19. Hermit Thrush
20. House Finch
21. Black-headed Grosbeak
22. Turkey Vulture

Elsewhere

23. House Sparrow
24. Eurasian Collared-dove (v)

Mammals

Red Squirrel
Rock Squirrel

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere
†First-of-year bird

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Bird Report is a (sometimes intermittent) record of the birds I encounter while hiking, see while driving, or spy outside my window. —Brian Willson



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