I was shocked to hear a report yesterday that a rare bird was spotted at one of my favorite local birding spots just a 25-minute drive from home. So, I headed out early to see if I could relocate the RUSTY BLACKBIRD that Chris Benesh had seen there.
After arriving at 7:10 a.m. (42°) and checking my coordinates against those given for the location of the Rusty Blackbird, I knew it had been seen a distance away on the east trail. However, this would be a LIFE BIRD for me so I didn't know its habits or whether IT would know its coordinates! Birds have wings. So, my strategy at that early hour was to start at the tenting location but going down over the bank to water's edge where I saw a fair number of birds including Black Phoebes and Rock Wrens in the pebbly shallow water.
It wasn't long before I heard other birders - friends, actually, so I went up the bank to join them as they made their way quickly toward the spot it had been seen yesterday. Steve and Joan Hosmer, Susan Fishburn and Janine McCabe had all arrived at the same time, so we had many eyes looking for the rarity.
At one opening as I looked far upstream with my binoculars, I saw blackbirds in the shallow river, so we all walked a bit faster toward them. It's not everyday a rare bird is found almost exactly in the same spot it had been reported seen previously, but so it happened. We spent about 15 to 20 minutes taking photos and looking at how it differed from the Great-tailed Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds that were also present.
|Pale-eyed Rusty Blackbird is rare in Arizona|
|Life Bird: First one I've ever seen; It's range is mostly eastern to mid-west USA|
|Rusty Blackbird in center; female and male grackle on either side|
|I would never have looked in the Salt River for this Rusty Blackbird!|
* * *
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S26172493