As I’m writing this I am actually wondering if school will be in session tomorrow. This winter continues to hang on. Before today the only remaining snow was in ditches and snow banks. It was very slowly turning back into spring. Then came this most recent winter storm turning the landscape white again.
The truth is I’m kind of excited for the potential backyard birding that a big storm during migration could bring. We bought more food yesterday and stocked the feeders – there are still over a hundred Common Redpolls sticking around. They should be home in Canada by now. But this time of year there could be a lot of interesting things happening in the yard on any given day, especially as migration gets underway.
Today I was watching the backyard and got to see this and point it out to the family:
It was a leucistic (loo-sis-tic) Common Grackle! As I’ve delved into birding I’ve heard of leucistic specimens of different species but have never seen one. Leucism is condition caused by a recessive gene that results in cells lacking the ability to make all types of skin pigment. This can affect the entire surface or just show up as irregular patches of white. It is not the same as albinism which is just a reduction in the skin pigment, melanin. Okay, science lesson over. I hope I didn’t mess it up too bad. Regardless, this was a pretty cool bird we got to see today. Here is what a Common Grackle “should” look like.
Then out the front yard, Evan told me that the Fox Sparrow showed up. We just saw it for the first time in our yard yesterday, and it was a life bird on Sunday. It’s nice to have a new bird to watch, and it was fun to add a new bird to our Yard List. You might have the Fox Sparrow too, but be on the lookout – they are just migrating through to Canada.
So, Storm, if you’re going to happen, at least drop off a few more cool birds.