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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Forensic Birding

So, today on my way to work I stopped by the scene of the Redwing sighting on Saturday. There was only one robin to be had, so the flock that the bird was in has obviously moved on. When you show up late for a rare bird, its almost like showing up at a crime scene, as you try to figure out why the bird was there in the first place, and where it might have gone. My forensic birding this morning left me with a couple thoughts:

a) There just didn't look like there was much for robins to eat in the yard where they were seen on Saturday. Good chance they've moved on. Last week flocks of robins were everywhere as the snow started to melt, revealing bare patches everywhere. I drove by flocks on Hwy 313 between Doylestown and Dublin (just north of the scene of the sighting) on Thursday and Friday last week (ouch, I might have driven right by this bird!). But today, no flocks were in evidence--and I only heard one robin. Its possible the birds are moving around to find new food sources.

b) There were over a dozen temporary no parking signs all up and down the road. One birder who was at the site on Sunday said there were 200-300 people there looking for the bird. I tried very hard to imagine a scenario in which 200-300 people might not impact the local bird lanscape, but had to wonder if that many people--and their cars--might not have helped a flock of robins think about finding somewhere else to forage.

c) Since there may be a wandering Redwing in Central Bucks County right now, anyone living within several miles of Peace Valley Park might want to think about putting out some fresh fruit on a platform or ground feeder. If there were a permanent source of food for robins, it might draw in our European vagrant.

d) Looks like it isn't worth spending too much time at the scene of the original bet now might be covering the area between Doylestown and Dublin in search of robin flocks. Since I drive 313 every day, I'll for sure be keeping a lookout.

CSI birding may not be as fun as actually seeing the bird, but you can often learn a lot about the bird by seeing where it was and trying to figure out why it left. Good luck to all Redwing searchers. Somewhere out there is a very, very rare bird.

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