Sunday, April 01, 2007

Under the Feeder and Pale Male

The Feather by Central Park Photographer Eleanor Tauber
Wisconsin got a typical Midwestern spring day today. Translation: tornado warnings. It rained most of the daylight hours and by 5:20pm the tornadoes had started to appear. At just that time, a time the birds here are normally vocalizing fit to wake the dead, they were utterly silent. Then two hours later at 7:30 and an extremely dark 7:30 at that, they began to chirp, twitter, and call. A true cacophony of bird vocalizing could be heard through the walls of the house without the windows even being open. Though the National Weather Service gave the all clear for the area at 8:00pm, the birds knew sooner.

The chipmunk finally appeared today. For as long as I can remember a Chipmunk has lived in a burrow under the front step. I'd hazard to say not the same chipmunk, it's been decades, but still there is always a chipmunk in that burrow who appears under the feeder daily to stuff his cheek pouches. And today, there it was fresh out of hibernation. I realized that while looking at chipmunks from human height they come across quite cute, with their sharp busy movements and zipping speed when startled. But when viewed from the perspective of something their own size this guy looks quite tough and not to be tangled with. Look at those toe nails.

Wait a minute. What is that rufusy brown on his sides? I'd been seeing such unusual birds all day, I wondered if he was a misplaced Oregon hybrid.

Nope. The streaks give it away. He's a juvenile
(I find the teensy curved toe nails just fascinating. But then again I find Pale Male's "toe nails" pretty fascinating as well. What is this thing I have for avian toe nails?)

What is happening with this guy? No, he didn't mix it up with a bucket of white paint, he's an albinistic Dark-eyed Junco, who, when I first saw him flit by a few days ago out of the corner of my eye, I admit my first thought was a Black and White Warbler. Wrong shape, wrong size, wrong everything. Nope, albinistic.
Also in today's catch under the feeder, was a Red-winged Blackbird, who had instead of red wing patches, white one's just tinged with rose. The Bird Lady is right. This area is just swimming in albinistic birds. She showed me a specimen of a Red-tail, completely white with only one partial colored body feather and a bit of rose in the tail. But with dark eyes, beautiful.

And remember Stealth Robin from last Spring? He crouches in the grass and then goes after his rivals from hiding. His technique must work as he's back and has maintained the same territory again this year.

And a short note from Hawk Reporter Katherine Herzog---
The weather has been the 50's and sunny....thank goodness the heat didn't last. Both PM and Lola have been dealing with ushering out migrating RTH's and Pale was getting attacked yesterday by a Peregrine Falcon as he sat on the Oreo Bldg antenna. He's so cool, like a judo master he barely moved to avoid the attack....ducking his head ever so slightly to avoid being beaned. He's so used to these guys harassing him he doesn't show, he's the least intimidated. K. H.
Donegal Browne


Anonymous said...

Does an albino bird have trouble convincing potential mates and territorial intruders of his or her species?

Donegal Browne said...


I've not forgotten you. I've been doing a little more delving into the matter and will answer on the mainpage once I'm satisfied with the gleanings.

Donegal Browne said...


More on albinism in regards to your question, in the post How Different is Too Different?, dated March 3, 2007.