Monday, February 20, 2006

Salem County - February 19th

Today was spent in Salem County looking for, and thankfully finding, the seven Brewer's Blackbirds that were found recently. This sighting represents a State-record for myself. And it was a life-bird for one of the birders that I was with !
You can see from the range map that these birds do not make it into NJ that often. They are not seen annually, and I had unsuccessfully searched for them the last time, which was in 2004.
This species is superfically similar to the larger Common Grackle, as well as, the Rusty Blackbird who typically haunts swampy areas but is rapidly declining.

Other birds seen in the area were 4 Bald Eagles, Kestrel, Merlin, Black Vultures, Tundra Swans, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers. At the Sod Farms in the area we also saw a Killdeer, hundreds of horned Larks, and several Snow Buntings, including the first one that I have seen in near full breeding plumage ! Unfortunately I again missed seeing Laplang Longspur which is being seen in the area.
Thousands of Red-Winged Blackbirds were around, no doubt staging for their soon-to-be assault on the northern areas once the weather turns warmer over the next 30 days or so.