Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stop saying that name or I'll have to stab myself in the face!

The title of this post is a direct quote from my wife, the lovely and sometimes crass, Rachel Riordan. The name in question is Hoary Redpoll. I have to admit I never really thought about it until she said those words over a salami sandwich in our kitchen today, but it can sound a bit gross... Go ahead, say it out load, especially in an empty room all by yourself. Hoary Redpoll, along with Bohemian Waxwing, have been much talked about around my house as Winter begins its slow painful morph into Spring. The following is for Rachel. My apologies to everyone else for this.

Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll          Hoary Redpoll        

Hoary Redpoll! & Common Redpoll by dfaulder.
The Hoary is much lighter, a bit chunkier, with a slightly smaller bill and no streaking to speak of on the under-tail coverts.

Now, I've been chasing Redpolls (both Common and Hoary) around Ontario for about two months now.  No. Let me rephrase that. I've been chasing Redpoll reports around Ontario for about two months now. It goes pretty much like this:

I read a report online.
I run outside, get in my Subaru Forester* (if I'm lucky and it's on the weekend, I'm home).
I race down the highway (no tickets yet).
I get to the spot.
I see no Redpolls.

Each time I find myself sitting across from some stranger's house staring at nothing but an empty feeder, I think that I should just forget about Redpolls. Who needs them? They're not that important really. Let's face it, the less species I see, the less ink that gets painfully injected under my skin this year. So really, if I miss them, there's five more minutes less I need to spend listening to that buzzing noise (if you've ever had a tattoo, you know the sound).

If you read last weeks post, you already know I accidentally got my Common Redpoll last Monday. I have that sometimes crass wife of mine to thank. She found them and she's not even a birder. Well, I thought it very fitting that this weekend, I found the other species, the HOARY REDPOLL, at my very own feeder, in my very own yard, kind of by accident.

In the insane world that plays out inside my head, there's a finite number of Redpolls to see. When I'm at home, they're at other feeders spread across Ontario. When I'm at those other feeders, they've all migrated over to my yard. I can just see it, they know I'm out chasing them down so they come over to my house and have a big old Redpoll party out back. I picture them rolling around in slow motion in piles of Niger seed on the snow like Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal rolling in money on those white sheets. They are revelling in the fact that I'm away. The odd one or two might be making little Redpoll jokes about the whole thing. They might even have tiny Redpoll cameras in my car so they can all gather around a tiny Redpoll TV at the moment I raise my bins and see nothing, giggling at my failure. I bet they are even selling t-shirts on eBay. And the moment I pull in the driveway, they fly off, returning to the very feeders I just came from. Sometimes 50-100km away.



Now though, I don't care if I see another redpoll in 2011. I would like to, because I'll always take another look at a beautiful bird. But now I can tick it off in my official OFO checklist booklet and I can also add it to my North American list, my winter list, my backyard list and my life list (the one that covers every bird I've ever seen on all 4 continents I've been to). And it's just as important as the Spot-breasted Woodpecker from Argentina or the African Spoonbill but not as important as the Cape Batis or the Malachite Sunbird. Sorry Hoary, but that Batis and Sunbird were unforgettable little birds. Among my favorite anywhere.

Spot-breasted Woodpecker by barloventomagico.
African Spoonbill by yeliseev.
Malachite Sunbird by Lip Kee.

I was addicted to this little bird from South Africa.

Cape Batis by johanvrensburg

Rachel will get her way, I won't be saying much about Hoary Redpolls anymore this year. But she'll always and forever have to look at the Latin name of it because now I have to tattoo it on me. Acanthis hornemanni has a nicer ring to it, eh Rach?

February 26th, 2011 day list
Hoary Redpoll

Paul Riss
Punk Rock Big Year

*I worked on an ad for Subaru Forester.

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