The Whites on Mountaintops

Greetings from what seems like day 2,367 of the Illinois lockdown! Anytime my running gets curtailed things tend to start dragging. Thanks to a local park and a Corp of Engineer site where I do 90% of my trail and hill training being closed, I’ve had to resort to running county roads and my treadmill. Our rural roads have a nasty crown in them which makes my hips scream and any distance runner can attest long training runs indoors will grind your mind to zombie in nothing flat. I have been able to confirm some stuff during this eternity (okay, more like 4 days). For example, although I had already written off the NFL several years ago in honor of my Father who fought under the symbol they think so little of, I have now found my life is quite fine without any professional sports… not to mention a hell of a lot more productive. Guessing that is exactly what every professional sports franchise fears every single day – when the fans realize you are not a necessity. Now contrast that with things I DO need – you know, like CHECKS ON MY BIRDING LIST. Ron put a major dent in my minuscule lead earlier in the year and I need every little morsel of count I can get which brings me to this.

Mountain Chickadee found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

If you are like me when I originally took this shot 0.86 dog years ago. We were out in the Colorado region attending the Teacup Dog Agility Association Nationals (brings up fond memories of our beloved Rizzi who took 6th in the nation for his height group – we still miss that little guy who left us in the midst of Linda’ surgery last year). On our way out we swung by the Rocky Mountain National Park for a little birding. While taking in the local Nutcrackers, Marmots and Owls, a Chickadee decided to drop in and see what had everyone’s attention. We have our share of Chickadees here in the Midwest so didn’t get too excited at the time. Nevertheless, staying true to the bird photographer’s code, I made sure to get a few shots in the tin.

Mountain Chickadee found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

Hit the jump to read about more about this overlooked bird.

It was not until sometime after that… okay, admittedly it was more like years as my backlog always runs in the ridiculous, that I realized something was off. Shots get a lot more scrutiny in the digital darkroom as I tend to focus a lot more on the details. It is shocking how much the darkroom floor is littered with discarded shots – thank god for the digital cards or I would be out begging on busy corners for a few dimes to cover all the old film processing costs. It is during that closer inspection that something jumped out at me. Something that should have been all too clear in the present when I was pressing the shutter button. I’ll let those readers from the northern half of the States and southern Canada take a stab at what feature might have triggered my spidey senses.

Mountain Chickadee found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

If you guessed a white line, then you are today’s winner. Actually, it’s technically two white lines to be exact, but it depends on the angle of the bird. Those of us in the region noted above should be used to seeing the all black cap of the appropriately named Black-Capped Chickadee. Extremely common year round in our parts and assuredly a partaker of any feeder you happen to have in your yard. As you can easily see from the shots, our specimen here has two white stripes through the black cap – directly over the eye. That is a key feature that distinguished the Mountain Chickadee from its more common variety. Those lines also signify a +1 on my birding list. Now, I do have an admission. I was able to get much better shots of this while attending the wedding of Ron’s son Matt out in Lake Tahoe last Memorial Day weekend – or as I like to say yesterday (in relationship to how long it will take for me to actually get down to processing those captures). Being impatient, went ahead and decided to use this series as my claim on the check. Kudos if you quickly deduced that this advantage over Ron is only short lived as he had equal opportunity to tin this species as well – truth be told, I helped him get it because that’s the kind of brother I am (now go ask him about the Ross’ Goose hehehe).

Mountain Chickadee found at Rocky Mountain National Park May 2014

Speaking of Ron, I did leave in the cluttered shot above to satisfy his lust for multiple angles – the other shots didn’t really give that full side profile. Seeing as I’m out of shots, better get to the interesting facts so you have something educational to leave with. In what appears to be equivalent to humans and toilet paper at the moment, these Chickadees are seed hoarders. According to Cornell, they’ll shuck that sunflower while perched near your feeder so you THINK they are enjoying a small meal for the day – in reality, they will take that seed and stash it in some secret space so they can sell it to needy birds at inflated market margins when the feeder goes dry – bastards!! I probably should be a little nicer in my commentary as these creatures do humanity a big favor whenever the tree killing insects descend on our western evergreens. Their taste for those nasty insects goes a long way in protecting those forests.

Not much else there, so going to call it a post. Hope you enjoyed my newest addition. By the way, recently found out there is another thing in the I NEED category and that’s pictures of pretty flowers in my inbox. Thanks to CJ, my day became a little brighter.

 

14 thoughts on “The Whites on Mountaintops”

  1. Hang in there B this could be a rough ride! As you may know over here we have just started lockdown. Except little old me, as a ‘key essential’ worker, has to drive to town to do my bit for Queen & Country, stiff upper lip and all that old bean!
    In the meantime confined to barracks but we have had a bit of sun and a couple or three butters in the garden. Feels odd but about now I would go over to the next village to get my newspaper, not allowed to do that now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Been entertaining myself today with what things my broke state has included in their essential group – for instance Tile Cutters, Dog Crap Pickup Services, Musical Instruments, Lighting Fixtures and … Tape Measures (yes, rulers). So stupid it hurts to laugh. At least they can’t stop nature so we can still enjoy those .. as long as I can coax some feathered friends into my forest. Assuming you are missing your drag racing about now as well. We’ll see how this plays out, meanwhile B, any chance you can procure a hazmat suit for when you are at the store !?!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nuclear fallout suit and a six feet long stick to keep Joe Public at the correct distance would be the ideal new business dress.
        Yeah the first drag race was due at Easter, that’s off. We are all hoping the first big Euro meet can go ahead at the end of May, hmmm not sure. There’s a lot of racers and fans on the UK fb group going stir crazy. I know there is more important things in life at the moment but sometimes you need that release.

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    2. For God and country. I am guessing you are seeing more butterflies recently? I have seen a few of our yellows here in the garden and hundreds of bees. Keep those shelves stocked if the Great Island still has food. We are pushing it from our side of the channel.

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  2. I have had a little experience with the sometimes assertive Mountain Chickadees. While filling “their” feeders, I had only just exited the garage carrying the newly filled feeders when a Mountain flew right up the the feeder, still in my hand, and started to pick through for the choice morsels. I channeled my inner Brian, wishing I had a camera, remembering as many details as I could. At first it was a regular Black Cap, but I noticed the second white stripe and some buff color under it’s wings. Etching this detail into my memory I waited for the “as then unnamed bird” to finish feeding. Yes, it was still eating as long as it’s taken you to read this. When it finally flew off, I rushed to hang the feeders and run back inside (leaving the muddy shoes downstairs) to look up my new find in Sibley’s. But with Brian was also running through my head saying “if you didn’t get a photo you didn’t see it” I made special care flipping through the pages. Not sure if it’s a +1 for me, but it was certainly new.

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    1. Now that would have been a nice +1 assuming you were still local at the time. Might have gotten blown way off course or was visiting its distant relatives. I am always amazed at people getting the chance to feed out of hand – all my years of birding and filling multiple feeders on our lot has resulted in ZERO, yes, Z E R O experiences of that. Not sure what is up with that, but let’s just say … jealous. Back to the sighting, see that little rectangle thingy you own, makes talkie noises and let’s you view memes from time to time .. next time you go to feed the birdies, slip that thingy in your pocket as it has this feature called a camera. I’d hate for you to have another great experience like that and not be able to count it as your attributed quote is absolutely true. Thanks for dropping in Brad, hope you are surviving working from home these days.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually had bird feeders in both hands at the time. The thought cross my mind to drop a feeder to take a photo. But the experience of trying to memorize the bird so I could look it up was simply too mesmerizing I guess. Haven’t see one of those since then, just the regular Black Caps. Looking forward to their bath time antics as the temps warm in the area.

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    1. Not necessarily rare in the sense if you are within its yearly region you should have no trouble spotting it. The problem (at least for me) is that it prefers the western terrain – mountainous evergreen terrain to be exact – which means I have to travel from the Midwest to actually have a chance of seeing it. We have the Black-Capped variety which some would say is equally cute. Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Finally! I had time at 04:00 to read this and I am sure a couple days behind in my duties! Nothing like a morning coffee and reading your information on the feathered friends. So, you think they are greedy little birds. Hummmm I think if that is the case they should triple the resale price of those seeds. These are hard times and profitable for those with excellent planning or squirrel skills. LOL
    The birds here are in Springtime getting it on with a mate mode. Nothing like hearing them at 04:00 to start another long day. Who the heck needs a rooster when you got they horny wild birds raising hell each morning! I get my tame feathered friends today. Can’t wait. The Hubby was splitting time between planes and coop making duties (see my blog). Really crazy here, with crazy whacked stressed out people flipping out. Some great stories over adult beverages at 6 feet apart someday. Stay safe and healthy and humble.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love is in the air ha! Never considered these Dee’s are just entrepreneurs trying to make a quick buck on supply and demand. Imagine you will see them selling seed out of the back of their tiny cars if I ever go down and my wife refuses to follow on the feeder tradition. Things are about the same Stateside – still supposed to shelter in place, limit travel etc. Ironically, my luck I blew my back out last Monday and been suffering through that, multiple trips to chiro and already seeing therapist on my heel problems. If they ever say non-emergency care is nonessential I am doomed. Hoping to get back fixed up this weekend so I can get back to pounding out miles – going stir crazy for lack of sweating. Take it easy CJ!

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