When I arrived at Jones Beach on Thursday morning I planned to check out the area around the Coast Guard station for early migrating shorebirds and to photograph some terns. Was I ever surprised to see what I presumed to be a female Yellow-headed Blackbird!
I first saw the bird foraging in the grass just east of the bathrooms near the Coast Guard Station, where House Sparrows normally feed, shortly after 9 AM. I got some pics, but with my 100 mm lens, the best of which is below, heavily cropped.
From there the bird flew to a bush on the south side of the parking lot, where I kept an eye on it while I walked backwards to my car to get a field guide, as I had never seen a Yellow-headed Blackbird before and while the males are easy to identify I had no idea what a female’s field marks were, though for some reason I was pretty sure of the bird’s ID.
I went back and forth between the guide and the bird, and then the bird flew to a tree between the parking lot and the water. With what little light was getting through the clouds behind me I got a couple more shots:
Then, while I was switching to my big lens, the bird flew over the bathrooms, making a “check” call, and looking like it was going to come down where I originally saw it…but when I walked around the building it was gone, and 2.5 hours of searching did not make it reappear.
What I saw was a solid dark brown bird with yellow cheeks, chest, and eyebrows. The guide I was using was the National Geographic guide, which says the female has white stripes running down its belly, which I did not see (odd that the stripes show in the pics though, and odder still that Sibley’s guide does not portray nor mention this field mark). I wasn’t 100% sure that it was a Yellow-headed Blackbird, but I was sure enough to call Will and get him to post it to the New York State listserve.
On my way back upstate today, before I had gotten these pics loaded on the computer for review, I got a call from my frequent birding companion, Jory, who let me know that the bird had been refound and confirmed! Whoo-hoo! My first self-found New York State rarity!
Congrats. Must be a great feeling.Â The only thing I can equate it to is pitching a no-hitter (even in a local softball league).
Very glad someone confirmed your discovery.
Shall I give you my address here in Ann Arbor to pass on to the bird? See, the Ivory Gull you sent my way never found me, so I thought I’d offer some assistance this time.
Great find, Corey, and congratulations!!
I waited 3 hours across the street from where a YHBB was reported, hoping to get a glimpse.-I “dipped out” on that one, but I guess there would be no thrill if you always found the bird you were looking for.
I once pitched a no hitter in little league, I struck out every hitter I faced (mercy rule went into effect) It was my final hurrah though as I hurt my arm and never pitched again.
Oh and your welcome for letting the rest of the world know that you can tell the difference between a Yellow-headed Blackbird and a Boat-tailed Grackle.
Here’s to Spruce Grouse on 7-7-07!
Now these guys shouldn’t be there! Very cool find for sure!
Way to go the 10,000 Birds Team! Yay…
Corey, I saw the reports of this bird but never clicked on the emails. I didn’t realize it was your sighting! Congrats!!!!! That is awesome. My first (and I guess only) real self-found rarity was a Western Kingbird.
Thanks and the bird is still there! I’m glad other folks are getting the chance to see it.