Tuesday, February 4, 2014

August 2013 - Yellow-headed blackbird in Moonbeam

Yellow-headed Blackbird: 2 visits in Moonbeam during the last 2 years.
Birding in Northern Ontario is great.  Sometimes, when we look closely, we can spot uncommon birds or birds that have wandered further than their normal geographic range.  I've had very few birding opportunities in the last couple of weeks so I decided to write about the Yellow-headed Blackbird that I spotted in Moonbeam in August 2013 and another that was observed during the spring of 2012.

The 30th of August 2013, I was in Moonbeam because the Friends of René Brunelle Provincial Park's August Family Day was taking place on the next day.  On Friday morning, I spotted this black bird on the telephone wire in front of my parent’s house.  There was something about it that made me look twice:  it had a yellow head!  I immediately started shaking a bit. (In some cases, birding can trigger adrenaline rushes...if you would've told me that 9 years ago, I would've laughed in disbelief too!) For a beginner like me, it was a good discovery because Yellow-headed blackbirds are not very common here.  I quickly reached for my camera and took a few photos.  It was extremely gray and foggy outside. 

Yellow-headed blackbird
Moonbeam, Ontario (August 30, 2013)
The normal geographic range for the Yellow-headed blackbird is the Western part of North America.  The YHBL range is the Mid-West and West of the United-States.  In Canada, it is found more precisely in the south of Manitoba and throughout the western provinces. 

Yellow-headed blackbird - Range map
From Sibley Guide to Birds (App) 

The bird flew away towards the lagoon (which is 170 m away from my parent's house) We had stuff to do and we had to leave town for a while (life has a tendency of getting in the way of birding at the worst times)

Later that evening, I was taking a stroll around the Lagoon with my dad when we saw 2 people entering the site.  There's never anyone at the Lagoon except me and whomever I'm with, so I said: "they might be here to look for the bird since I reported it on eBird" my dad thought that was a joke but, sure enough, they had driven 100 km to try to spot the YHBL. My dad could not believe it: " are you telling me that they just drove 100km to visit a lagoon to look for a bird? People actually do that?" The 2 birders commented on how lucky we were to have such a great accessible lagoon in Moonbeam. My dad said to them. "My daughter always told me we were lucky to live so close to the lagoon but I thought she was a bit crazy to think that!". Thanks to these 2 birders, I now pass as semi-normal in my family!

That same week, I met Angèle, a birder in Moonbeam.  When I told her about the YHBL, she told me that she had observed one on her lawn in the spring of 2012.  She generously let me post her photo:

YHBL - Moonbeam - Spring 2012
Photo by:  Angèle L. Albert
I always look forward to talking with Angèle when I go to Moonbeam; she and her husband have discovered and photographed many wonderful birds over the years.  Thank you Angèle for letting me use your photo.

Will we be able to see another Yellow-headed blackbird this coming spring?  I sure will be paying closer attention to blackbirds near Moonbeam!

Did you have the opportunity to observe an uncommon bird in our Northern Ontario region?  Leave a comment .... and keep an eye out because you never know what you might see!

1 comment:

  1. That was a remarkable sighting, Roxane. We're disappointed we missed it, but we'd do the drive again if the bird shows up this year. Besides, there's always the pizza in town - can't remember the name of the place, but the crust was awesome! 'Lagoons' always sounds so exotic to people until we explain what it really means... All the best birding this year.