WORDS ON BIRDS
Rare Birds Can Pose a Dilemma
October 22, 2016
When a rare
bird shows up on private property, the residents are often faced
with a dilemma. If they publicize the sighting, throngs of birders
and photographers may descend upon the location in the hope of
seeing the bird.
Some of you may
remember the Great Gray Owl that appeared in Rowley in the winter of
1995/96. The bird was a big story in the local newspapers and even
in the Boston Globe. Birders and photographers from near and far
descended upon the quiet neighborhood. Though most people stayed on
public roads and used scopes or long lenses to view the bird, some
did not. At the very least, the number of cars caused headaches for
local residents trying to navigate their narrow roads and some even
termed the gathering a “circus.”
Golden-crowned Sparrow appeared at a residence in Hingham last
winter and a young birder sought permission from the homeowner and
the neighbors before publicizing the rarity. As a result of the
young birder’s diligence, the bird was viewed by many birders over
the course of a week without incident.
A homeowner in western Massachusetts was not so lucky after giving
permission for visitors to view a Varied Thrush that was visiting
her feeders. A photographer, in the zeal of trying to get a closer
photo of the bird, trespassed onto a neighbor’s property who, in
turn, called the police. That (sadly) ended all visitation rights to
see that bird.
But for every bad
experience, there seems to be one that goes very well. Such is the
case for a Rufous Hummingbird that recently appeared at a feeder in
Andover. The homeowners are active birders and chose to post the
sighting on the local listserve along with an invitation for birders
to view their special visitor.
Peebles of Wayland was one of the birders who went to see the hummer
and he posted his experience:
always amazing to me when I discover the kindness of strangers who
are welcoming when they recognize a kindred spirit. I suppose that
it shouldn't, but it does. Kindness is becoming rarer, like the
hummingbird I first saw today.
drove up to Andover, Siri led me to the address, but I didn't quite
get all the instructions and sat out front in the cul-de-sac looking
for the feeders. I knew they must be out back, because the
chickadees, titmice and nuthatches were flocking that way. But I
didn't want to invade privacy, so just as I was about to head home,
an athletic gentleman emerged in full biking regalia.
“He greeted me with "I hope you're here to see the Rufous, because
it should be back any time. It comes every 45 minutes or so, and it
is due about now". I sheepishly responded that I was sorry to invade
his privacy, but it would be a lifer for me. "No worries, I'm going
for a ride, go out back and he'll be here soon", or wonderful,
magnanimous words to that effect.
“And indeed, within a few minutes, a hummer briefly appeared- rufous
on the rump and tail, plain throat with a few spots, green back.
Seemed smaller to me than the usual horde at my feeders, but Sibley
says no: same size. I wouldn't be able to tell it from an Allens if
I had it in hand, but I'll take it as my first (and, alas, maybe
“So I sat there on
the grass meditating for some time, birds flitting all about, hoping
for a second look, thinking to myself that this is why I am alive-
to be welcomed by fellow man, see something extraordinary and be at
peace in a garden of Eden, when, suddenly, another birder peaked out
from around the corner. It was just then that the Rufous instantly
reappeared at the feeder, and sat contentedly between us displaying
his gorgeous rufous rump and tail, keeping an eye on us both, as
hummers always do, and wondered to himself, I presume, who these
kindly strangers were, and how he'd ever find his way back again to
where he felt that he belonged.”
homeowners, Donna and Don Cooper, saw Doug’s post and responded:
“Thank you for the kind words Doug! Don
and I have been delighted with the consideration that everyone has
given to us and our home. It has been very exciting to see this bird
and to watch the excitement of everyone else. When it first showed
up we considered whether we would publish our address, but I am glad
we did. The birding community has lived up to my expectations with
its consideration and excitement.”
The homeowners are now considering a request from a local bird
bander to band to little hummingbird. Capturing the bird for close
examination and measurements will help confirm the birds identity
and could reveal its movements if it is captured again elsewhere.
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