Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cinnamon teal, Montlake Fill

Isn't he handsome?

I would gawk at that red eye, those chestnut feathers and china blue shoulder patches, even if cinnamon teal were animals I saw all the time.
As it is, it's all new. A life bird, in fact. When I watched a pair of them fly around me, and then came across this drake, that was my first time noticing this species.
I am not a "lister" -- though I do track what I see when I'm traveling -- but I do get a satisfaction out of witnessing a species new to me.
It's an allure that makes birders biased observers of nature. We're great at spotting whatever storm-tossed oddities show up in our area, but we can be oblivious to huge population shifts in common birds.
And common birds do have their pleasures, though they might not be as easily summarized in the phrase "life bird." There's the way a gaudy bird, such as a common yellowthroat, can vanish into a shrub. There's the sputterings of a marsh wren, a bird given to extended diatribes of squeaks, rattles, buzzes and notes - part bird, part machine, all bad-ass. There's the constant rivalry of red-winged blackbirds, with the males calling from cattails and shrubs, and the females discreetly jockeying for position below. This time of year, the males are ready to attack all comers, other males, crows, and eagles.
So I'd have had a nice time birding, even if I hadn't seen the cinnamon teal. But I'm glad I did.

1 comment:

Kate Kurtz said...

Nice shot! He's gorgeous.