Alachua Audubon Society

A chapter of the National Audubon Society

Invasion of the Red-breasted Nuthatches!

I like being right about things – admittedly it doesn’t happen very often – so I’m going to remind you of my prediction that “this could work out to be an interesting winter, with Red-breasted Nuthatches outnumbering goldfinches at your feeder.” On the 20th John Killian had a Red-breasted Nuthatch at his NW Gainesville feeder, and on the morning of the 21st he had two! That’s right, two Red-breasted Nuthatches, zero American Goldfinches! Nostradamus, that’s me!

John got a nice picture of the first nuthatch on the 20th: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30736692@N00/8108732680/in/photostream

And that’s not all! Geoff Parks had two in his NE Gainesville yard this morning! And that’s still not all! Bob Wallace had one at his Alachua farm this morning! And that’s still not all! Andy Kratter saw three Red-breasted Nuthatches at the Cedar Key cemetery on the 20th! While he was there he ran into Dale Henderson, who’d seen two others, one in her yard and one at the Cedar Key State Museum! In case you’re arithmetically challenged, that’s five Red-breasted Nuthatches at Cedar Key! (Excuse me while I run to Office Depot for more exclamation points.) Hopefully they were seen today by the Alachua Audubon field trip and will stick around till the next Cedar Key field trip on November 17th.

Speaking of which, Audubon’s Programs and Field Trips schedule has finally been updated, thanks to Phil Laipis:http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/aud/calendar.htm

Geoff Parks has had a run of great birds in his NE Gainesville yard during the past week. In addition to this morning’s Red-breasted Nuthatches, and the Clay-colored Sparrow that visited him on the 13th, he had a female Painted Bunting on the 14th, and the fall’s second Nashville Warbler dropped in for a few minutes on the 20th: “I observed it at close range (~10 feet) and in good light for a minute or so, but I went to get a camera and it was gone when I came back. It had a complete narrow white eye ring, completely gray head that contrasted with the olive of the rest of the upperparts, and bright, lemon yellow underparts with only a small white area around the legs, with the brightest yellow on the upper breast and the undertail coverts. The throat was yellow, and the flanks were definitely yellow and not dingy brownish as in a female Common Yellowthroat. At least part of the time I was observing it, it pumped its tail frequently, although not particularly rhythmically. I did see the top of the head, and did not observe any color other than gray. Although I haven’t seen one of these birds in quite a while, I’ve seen them numerous times in Connecticut, Maine, and Missouri, and I have no doubt that this was what it was.”

Mike Manetz found a Least Flycatcher along the Cones Dike Trail near the 3-mile marker. He heard it calling and was able to get a recording of its vocalizations. He also found an extraordinarily late Orchard Oriole. Hopefully both birds will stick around for next weekend’s field trip.

Frank Goodwin ran across a Clay-colored Sparrow at La Chua on the 18th:http://www.flickr.com/photos/30736692@N00/8108724963/in/photostream  This could be the same bird that Mike Manetz found nearer the observation tower on the 12th.

Steve Hofstetter had a male Painted Bunting in his NW Gainesville back yard on the 19th. A few Painteds have shown up lately – they often do, mixed in with the Indigo Buntings whose migration peaks in October – but all except for Steve’s have been plain green females: Adam Zions saw one at San Felasco on the 19th, one visited Mike Manetz’s NW Gainesville yard from the 15th through the 17th, one visited Geoff Parks (as mentioned above) on the 14th, and John Hintermister saw one at Bolen Bluff on the 8th.

The Yellow-headed Blackbird that Mike Manetz found on the 11th remained at the dairy till at least the 15th, when John Hintermister and Mike both saw it, but it hasn’t been seen since then. Mike couldn’t find it on the 20th: “I did a quick check of the dairy and found fewer blackbirds than ever. Eight Brown-headed Cowbirds sitting dejectedly in a dying pine tree, only a handful of Boat-tailed Grackles, and about thirty Red-winged Blackbirds in the back fields. Nothing on or in the barns but about twenty Rock Pigeons. I drove up to 156th Ave and back down 59th. Nothing there either. Guess I’d better stay in my yard and wait for the Nuthatches.”

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