Extraordinary (adjective): 1. beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established. 2. exceptional in character, amount, extent, degree, etc.; noteworthy; remarkable. SYNONYMS: uncommon, singular, rare, phenomenal, special. (Dictionary.com)
If the commonplace birds that frequent our everyday world are “ordinary”, then “extraordinary” birds must be those that are unusual or rare visitors in our lives.
What’s ho-hum to one birder might be remarkable to another, however. Here are a few of the extraordinary birds I saw in the woods this spring, each one more special than the last.
I see Yellow-rumped Warblers like the one above all the time. Common, yes, but far from ordinary. Because there’s no such thing as an ordinary bird. Yellow-rumps in breeding plumage are quite striking.
Yellow Warblers are also at Heinz NWR in large numbers in the spring. They’re plain, but very bright. And they are always cheerfully singing their little heads off.
In the Pine Barrens, a Prairie Warbler spent a long time perched at the top of a pitch pine in the sun.
Then he started caroling. Prairie Warblers are more frequently heard than seen, for me at least.
Back at Heinz, an Eastern Kingbird at the water’s edge.
I see Baltimore Orioles from time to time in the spring. If one oriole is good, two must be better!
Spring migration brought the warbler hit parade to Heinz. Magnolia Warbler.
I don’t see Black-throated Green Warblers too often, and had never photographed one before. Catching this one was tough. It hung around for a long time, but like most warblers, it never stayed in one place, and was always just a little too far away.
Canada Warbler. Another bird new to my photo collection, though not my life list.
I can’t show you my favorite warbler of the spring. There was a brilliant Blackburnian Warbler in a treetop at Heinz. I’ve only caught brief glimpses of Blackburnians in Michigan. This time I got a good look at the bird, but you’ll have to take my word for it. He didn’t come close enough for a portrait.
Rarer still was this bright confection in Higbee Beach WMA in New Jersey. It’s a Yellow-breasted Chat, only the second one I’ve ever seen. I was shooting here from a tall observation platform at treetop level, the perfect perch from which to watch this warbler sing and dance.
Walking along the path at Cape May Point State Park, I spotted a flash of bright blue. Bluebird? Blue Jay? Tree Swallow?
At the edge of the woods, a Blue Grosbeak was feeding on grass seeds. I’ve never seen one before. That makes this a life bird, the first one of its species I’d ever spotted.
Warblers to orioles, kingbirds to grosbeaks, there’s no such thing as an ordinary bird. They’re all special in their own way.