An Unfamiliar Song

A song sparrow sings while perched on a cattail at South Quigley Lake in Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington

One of the nice features of bird guides on mobile devices, compared to their traditional paper counterparts, is the ability to only show birds you might see in a state (apart from the occasional rarity that has strayed far from its normal course). I used this feature when researching the places we considered moving, to see how many of the birds will be new to me and how many I’m going to have to say goodbye to. Some will at once be familiar and unfamiliar, such as this song sparrow singing from the cattails at Ridgefield’s South Quigley Lake, as while the ubiquitous sparrow does live in Arizona it has a different look from the those of the Pacific Northwest.

This is part of the attraction of the desert for us, it’s a big change from what we are used to, and my hunch is I’ll have fun exploring the landscapes and wildlife there for many years to come. We’ll see if time proves me correct, but I’m optimistic. I am going to miss in particular the auto tour at Ridgefield though, this is by far the place I’ve spent the most time in the Northwest, as well as the wetlands in general.

A Splash of Yellow

A female yellow-headed blackbird perches between two cattails, showing the little splash of yellow on her rump

The yellow coloring in yellow-headed blackbirds is mostly confined to their heads and chests, even for females whose coloring is not nearly as bold as their male counterparts. But, as you can see from her acrobatic pose, there’s also a little splash of yellow on her rump.

Gold Reward

A common yellowthroat perches in cattails at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

The yellowthroats weren’t staying still for very long, so even if I got a clear view of one I had to move quickly. For a few seconds this male flew into the middle of the cattails, not so high as to draw the ire of the blackbirds. His eye was obscured by the cattail in front nearly the entire time, but he stuck his head out far enough for me to get one picture before he flew off.

My favorite picture of the day.