Thursday, April 9, 2015

Birding by Impression I

Newer birders tend to focus on details. They squint to ascertain the hue of shorebird legs and doggedly attempt to sort out sparrows based on breast pattern. Following the field marks is the classic route to improve one's birding prowess. But, in many cases, those details are superfluous.

Let me set the stage. You are walking through a beech-maple forest on a balmy April afternoon. A medium-sized bird--looks woodpeckerish--flushes from a nearby tree and lands several trees back. You try to manuever to get a clear view, but the bird keeps ducking behind the trunk, staying out of sight.

It was a sapsucker. They're sneaky. Their coyness is unparalleled in the woodpecker clan. Don't bother looking for white wing stripe or the red throat patch.