I’m an amateur ornithologist, but not very good and not very motivated either. That said, I’ve been learning the names of more birds since moving to Ithaca. I learned a new one this morning.
In the same genus as goldfinches and pine siskins. Looks a lot like a house finch, but has more contrasting striping on the wings, a dark spot around its mouth, and usually some red on its noggin and sometimes its breast. Very cute.
A small flock of common redpoles were at the feeders this morning. A few other finches joined them (house, goldfinch), but there were about twenty LBBs (little brown birds for ornithological novices) flying around the feeders. And then suddenly off they went!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen common redpoles before. I don’t remember them previous winters. I might have mixed them up with house finches in the past, but I saw some of their distinctive features pretty quickly and could identify them pretty quickly and with more confidence in my bird book.
They may be more common around our land and ecology here than our old house in a more densely populated neighborhood with little meadow and forest. They also may be passing through, on their way to destinations much farther north. I swear I’ve heard some different bird songs lately and the light has started looking much more spring-like, even though it’s still late February.
We’ve got 2+ feet of snow on the ground and spring doesn’t look like it’s going to show up any time soon. But the light and the birds are harbingers of spring nonetheless.