27 January 2021

Posts Tagged ‘black-headed grosbeak’


Monday, August 17th, 2020
Lesser Goldfinch in the sunflowers, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 17 August 2020.
Lesser Goldfinch in the sunflowers.

I’ve been lucky lately to spend a good part of my day looking out on a stand of sunflowers. They weren’t planted, as far as I know—just sprung up from natural seed. And one thing they do is attract a number of bird species as near as twelve or fifteen feet from my window.

House Finches frequent the gone-by sunflowers, as do Black-capped Chickadees. But perhaps the species most drawn to the seeds is the local brand of goldfinch.

For decades when I heard “goldfinch” my brain pulled up the look and sound of an American Goldfinch, the common eastern species. For the past year, though, “goldfinch” has meant the western Lesser Goldfinch. I’m still getting to know these interesting, entertaining birds.

Between the species are similarities and differences—plumage, voice, flight calls, behavior. Contrasting the two, surprisingly, has made me appreciate us humans’ innate ability to compare. It’s a thing we do on a daily basis without even thinking about it.

Thank you, Nature, for the goldfinch.

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

1. Mourning Dove
2. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay
3. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
4. Black-chinned Hummingbird
5. House Finch**
6. Rock Pigeon
7. Spotted Towhee
8. Black-capped Chickadee
9. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
10. Red-breasted Nuthatch
11. Black-headed Grosbeak (v)
12. Cooper’s Hawk


13. Lesser Goldfinch
14. Black-billed Magpie
15. House Sparrow
16. Northern Flicker (v)

(v) Voice only
**Voice only elsewhere

Mourning Doves

Sunday, August 16th, 2020
Mourning Dove, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 16 August 2020.
Mourning Dove out my window.

It occurs to me that I haven’t devoted fair attention here to the Mourning Dove. It’s a lovely bird, an abundant species—one that can be seen throughout the Lower 48—and thus easily taken for granted. Still, it almost invariably improves the places it frequents.

A Mourning Dove’s soft cooing resembles human mourning enough to have spawned its common English name, but to me it’s a serene sound, a soft sound, a sound of peaceful mornings and evenings. The species is not hard to see as it perches quietly on a utility line in town or a high perch in the country. It interrupts no conversation, means no harm.

I see doves often while hiking with Captain Jack—whole families of them lately (eleven birds today). Most we’ve flushed from green leafy places that stay cool in the mountain shade. When one bursts into flight, its whistling wings are enough to ID a Mourning Dove. Its flight is fast and sure.

Doves are of course popular game birds—in fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports more Mourning Doves “harvested” than all other species combined (in 2003, anyway)—and yet their populations seem stable.

But I could never kill one, that’s for sure.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 8:01 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Mourning Dove*
2. Black-chinned Hummingbird
3. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
4. American Robin
5. House Sparrow (v)
6. Spotted Towhee
7. Black-capped Chickadee**
8. House Finch*
9. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
10. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay
11. Red-breasted Nuthatch (v)
12. Lazuli Bunting (v)
13. Black-headed Grosbeak


14. Black-billed Magpie
15. Eurasian Collared Dove
16. Lesser Goldfinch
17. Rock Pigeon


Rock Squirrel

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere

**Voice only elsewhere

Strange Summer

Monday, August 10th, 2020
Black-headed Grosbeak (imm.), East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 10 August 2020.
Black-headed Grosbeak (imm.).

I’ve lived in Salt Lake City for a year now and have seen all its seasons. But I didn’t truly begin birding last year until late August or early September—so these have been an interesting few days.

Spotted Towhee, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 10 August 2020.
Spotted Towhee.

I recall, for instance, how thrilled I was to see my “lifer” Lazuli Buntings—an adult male feeding a fledgling—a species I’d assumed was something of a rarity here. Not at all so, I learned this year, as more than once I had 20-plus individuals on my list from a two-hour hike with dog.

Same with Spotted Towhees, which I listed more of than buntings last September (although I heard no singing birds until spring): they had nests all over the place this year.

Lately, though, the buntings and towhees on my list are far fewer than just a week ago. Replacing them as most common up the mountain are hummingbirds and finches. And every day for the past several, I’ve seen or heard at least one Cooper’s Hawk.

These subtle, incremental changes fascinate me. Every day is truly, deeply different from the last.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 8 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay
2. Mourning Dove*
3. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
4. Lazuli Bunting
5. Black-chinned Hummingbird*
6. Black-capped Chickadee
7. Spotted Towhee
8. House Finch**
9. Cooper’s Hawk
10. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
11. Black-headed Grosbeak
12. American Robin


13. Eurasian Collared Dove
14. Lesser Goldfinch (v)


Red Squirrel (v)
Rock Squirrel

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere

**Voice only elsewhere

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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