Friday, February 19, 2010

Mountain Bluebird

I think I saw a mountain bluebird today. They are birds of the American West, and of Mexico, so North Georgia seems outside the range. According to one site, though, they do sometimes show up in the eastern states in winter, and as far north as Alaska. These small birds are a brilliant cyan blue, very different from the softer, true blue of the usual bluebirds ~ and there's no red on his breast. This one was on the fence of a pasture at Cohutta Springs Conference Center. The first one I ever spotted was in Varnell, Georgia, some years ago. I've seen maybe three or four since, all near Crandall. A couple of days ago I saw an owl. I've only seen a handful of those in my lifetime. He was perched atop some roadkill. The face was very round and cream-colored, with no prominent ear feathers. I can't decide if he was a barred owl or a barn owl. They're really not that much alike, but I didn't get to look at him closely. That same day, I spotted two flocks of redbirds, of about eight or ten each. They looked smaller than cardinals and didn't seem to have a hood (though I could have missed this detail). I've looked for similar birds on-line. The closest I found to it was the summer tanager (not to be confused with the scarlet tanager, which has black on its wing). North Georgia is definitely outside the range for summer tanagers in winter, though they come here to breed in summer, according to the range maps. So... I'm just a little confused. (I'm no expert on birds ~ but when I spot an interesting one, I try to find a description to figure out what I've seen.)

Mountain Bluebird:
Summer Tanager:

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