Tuesday, November 6, 2007

An Unusual Birdie

Since I wasn't out hunting this past weekend, I had some time in the mornings for my favorite activity: sitting in the dining room window with a cup of coffee and my knitting and watching birds. Before I even got settled in on Sunday morning, I noticed this unusual looking little birdie in the little oak tree in the backyard.

Hmmmm, what could it be? I asked myself. Pretty cute and kinda looks like an odd little canary....

It was hangin' with some goldfinches.

The pictures didn't turn out the best (taken through the window in low light at around 6:45 am), but being a naturally curious person, I decided to seek the advice of some experts. I sent a short e-mail query (with the photos attached) to a few of my local birding experts and also the "Science Chimp." And lo, and behold, within the hour I had the following response from our dear Science Chimp:

"Just a leucistic American goldfinch. The melanin is lacking on the head, allowing the underlying yellow to show through. Leucism is pretty common in these birds. But very pretty!"

Isn't she great? I didn't think the bird was rare, but wondered if it was maybe a caged bird that had been released or if it was just some sort of feather anomaly. I was lucky to see this little bird and catch a few photographs, because in less than 10 minutes it flew away and I haven't seen it since.

Thanks Julie, for helping solve the mystery of this unusual looking little birdie.

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I'm not sure if anyone has noticed or not, but I've added a link to upcoming birding festivals on my sidebar. Some of these are festivals I hope to attend and right now they're all in the midwest area. As more festival information is announced for 2008, I'll surely be adding some links. Barring any unforeseen events, I'm currently planning to attend the Sax Zim Bog Festival in February, and I'm thinking really seriously about the Great Plains Sandhill Crane & Bluebird Festival in Nebraska in March too.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think it is fun to find unusual birds at the feeders. Not so unusual but still not common were 10 Cedar Waxwings in our water feature yesterday. That was a real treat too.

Lynne said...

I'm going to request to get the weekend of the Sax-Zim festival off. Want to car-pool from the Twin Cities? Your goldfinch is sure pretty!

mon@rch said...

Does look like a AM Goldfinch to me also! Love when they throw a curve ball at you!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Lisa,
I love Cedar Waxwings! I've seen pictures other people have taken of Cedar Waxwings at their birdbaths or water features, but I've never seen any of mine near the water. That must have been cool for you.

Hi Lynne,
An excellent idea! I would be happy to pick you up on my way 'up north.' Wonder if Deb wants to go too??

Hi Mon@rch,
I was pretty convinced it was a goldfinch when it spent some time at the nyjer feeder. That little bird knew exactly what to do there!

MOM said...

What a pretty little bird, just what you need on a Sunday morning to catch your eye, cool pictures too! We're still thrilled with the Tufted Titmouses at out place.

Susie said...

Such a pretty little guy. Glad you solved your mystery :)

Maud said...

A very pretty bird indeed!

Mary said...

We are so fortunate to have our Science Chimp. She's the best and loves to help.

Cute little goldfinch. Sticks out like a sore thumb, though. If it returns you'll know it!

Your trips sound great and riding with Lynne sounds even better.

Jayne said...

How cool! I've never seen that leucistic feature and would have never guessed! Glad you were able to get some shots of it and share them with us Ruthie. :c)

Marsha said...

How cool is seeing that bird! Not only are your pictures fun...but I was educated on leucistic birds this morning. Thanks for sharing...

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
It was an eye-catching little bird and didn't seem quite as fearful as the regular goldfinches. The sunrise made its little head glow like a yellow lightbulb! Enjoy those titmice!

Hi Susie,
I'm glad the mystery was solved too. I wish it would have stayed around a little longer though.

Hi Maud,
Thanks for stopping by to enjoy my little bird!

Hi Mary,
You got that right about Julie!

I'll keep watching for that little bird to come back--just hope it doesn't have a run-in with Cooper's Hawk!

You should come with us--I'll pick you up at MSP airport. You will LOVE northern Minnesota in FeBRRRuary ;-)

Hi Jayne and Marsha,
I have never had a leucistic bird in my yard before, but have seen pictures of them and always it seems that the feathers have been white, so this little guy with the solid yellow head surprised me. I'm always happy to learn something new about birds.

Trixie said...


What a cool find. Lovely coloring on that AmGoldie. And yeah to the Chimp for helping you out.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Julie is great and very kind o help out with these types of questions. I have a lot of goldfinches at the feeders but haven't seen anything like this. I'll be in the lookout though.

Just saw my first hairy woodpecker of the winter this morning. It was like seeing an old friend I haven't seen in a while.

--Robin (Bumblebee)

Larry said...

I really count on the help of other birders too.-Interesting to see variations in birds anyway.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Trixie,
It was fun to see that little goldfinch....even though it wasn't a rare bird, just being different was exciting.

Hi Robin,
I have seen an infrequent hairy woodpecker too. I'm more excited about having the red-bellied woodpecker back. She's much less shy than hairy and quite vocal....chirring all over the place so I know right away where to look for her.

Hi Larry,
I've read your comments from some of the other birders who help you and I've learned from them too. It is fun to see something unusual and know which people to contact for help.