Friday, May 22, 2009

Stragglers

It's late in the season, and hawks aren't exactly in a hurry anymore to get to where they are going. The ones that were, got there already. So today's juvenile Peregrine Falcon criss-crossed Whitefish Point air space throughout the morning, before eventually taking off. Most of the raptors now are juveniles of course, like for instance all of today's 8 Rough-legged Hawks (juvenile intermediate morph pictured above). Other raptors seen today included 1 Osprey, 4 Bald Eagles, 1 Northern Harrier, 10 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 19 Broad-winged Hawks, 6 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 American Kestrel, and 1 Merlin.

There appears to be a small influx of Chaffinches going on at Whitefish Point at the moment. Riding my bicycle to the count site, I already saw one male along the road, and when I got to the Point, there were two more males countersinging on either side of the parking lot! How crazy is that? To my European ears, this sounded like home, but I met birders who were puzzled by their loud, emphatic songs. These birds are almost certainly escaped from captivity, as no wild birds have ever been documented on this side of the Atlantic, and (therefore) North American field guides don't even feature them. Earlier this season a male was seen with a female near the feeders behind the Owl's Roost, and these birds have shown up at Whitefish Point in previous years too. One wonders which pet store they come from, who is releasing these birds, and if they will ever establish feral populations.

3 comments:

  1. They must have been released along that European (Eurasian) Goldfinch my husband and I saw on the point on Monday. Is this a result of the poor economy? Release the birds you no longer can afford to care for? Very puzzling finds for we American birders.

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  2. There are actually a few accepted records of Chaffinch from the NE part of the continent - they can be seen in the National Geographic Guide. There was apparently a release of chaffinches in Chicago about 5 or so years ago, which is assumed to be the source of all the midwestern birds. Who knows whether they are establishing themselves as breeders or not though.

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