From Birding

Lifebird #140 – My First Twitch

Species  Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch / Leucosticte tephrocotis
Where Fond du Lac Reservation, Carlton County, MN
When January 8, 2007
Who Joann
Number 140

The Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch inspired my first twitch. “Twitching” is chiefly a British birding term that means “to chase after rarities” (see Birders: Tales of a Tribe, by Mark Cocker). A twitcher reacts quickly to news of a rarity, and will go to great lengths to see the bird.

Joann and I didn’t exactly react quickly to the news of the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches that spent the winter of 2006-07 in northern Minnesota. The birds were reported almost daily starting in November of 2006 on the Minnesota birders’ listservs (MOU and MnBird), and we dithered for almost two months before deciding that we just had to see them. These birds, if not quite a rarity, are certainly unusual in this state; the MOU lists only about eleven prior occurences.

We rented a (lousy) room in Duluth for Monday night, January 8. We didn’t have a lot of time on Monday, but our plan was to swing by the Fond du Lac Conservation building west of Cloquet where the birds were known to feed regularly, wait for a half-hour at most, and then drive to Headbom Road to look for Great Gray Owls at dusk. We figured that if we didn’t see the finches on Monday afternoon, we’d come back to the building and wait as long as it took on Tuesday before heading back to the twin cities.

Gray-crowned Rosy-FinchWe had been sitting in our car in the parking lot of the building reading a newspaper for about twenty minutes, and were thinking of leaving, when Joann spotted the first bird. Bingo! We spent about ten minutes watching them before leaving the car. I spent another ten minutes or so trying to get a perfect photo of one of the birds, but in the end, I couldn’t beat the photo I shot though a window our car of a bird sitting on the side-view mirror of the car parked next to us.

See lifebird index.