Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lemmons to Lemonade

Earlier this month I posted at Birding is Fun about a bust of a trip I made up to the lovely Mt. Lemmon in Tucson. The plan was to see and photograph some Red Crossbills, but I came away only with one sketchy sighting of the target bird and no Crossbill photos at all. 

There was plenty of time on the mountain though to acquaint myself with some of the other high altitude residents, chiefly the Yellow-eyed Juncos, which can be found anywhere and everywhere above 7,000 feet or so,

and the Pygmy Nuthatches, which are loud and gregarious but nonetheless considerably harder to pick our from the tall ponderosa pines. 

While traipsing back and forth, up and down and all around the mountain, I found the Yellow-eyed Juncos to be everywhere: on the ground, on rails along the street (see above), up in trees casting condescending glares (see below), and all the mediums in between.

One of the Junco chieftains was particularly sociable, and this was evidenced not only by its brazenly close approach to a big gangly human, but also the proud jewelry it wore to show it had a history of such interactions. With both legs decked out in colorful bands, this bird really must've been the toast of the mountain.

I sent the banded bird's information into the USGS banded bird site, already satisfied with my Lemmon of a trip mostly do to the Juncos I saw along the way. It was all the sweeter then to quickly hear back from the banding lab and get this certificate with information on the particular bird. It's also warm and fuzzy to know that the USGS officially, and in writing, appreciates lil' ol' me.

I found it particularly satisfying and delightful to learn that this bird, with the green and yellow on one leg and silver and white on the other, was at least four years old.
Cheers to you 2030-27116, my favorite Junco in the world!