Sunday, January 20, 2013

Red Crossbills in south Fayetteville continue to draw Joe Neal and other birders intent on discovering how many varieties/species are visiting Arkansas this year

   My audio recordings from December 7 and 10 at Fayetteville Country Club were analyzed by Matt Young at Cornell. These showed flocks included at least three crossbill song types: Ponderosa Pine Crossbill, Western Hemlock Crossbill, and Lodgepole Pine Crossbill. Now there is possibly another.
    Today was warm and sunny with very little wind, a fine day to hear and record sound.  The course was all but deserted when we drove up. Joan Reynolds stepped out of the car and IMMEDIATELY had a crossbill, then 10, in view from the parking lot. We checked in at the pro shop, got a friendly OK, and then on to crossbills calling from 4 or 5 trees not far from the club house.
    Song type is used to separate as many as 9-10 possible species now referred to as Red Crossbills. If they are eventually split into separate species, this will pump up the state list from the current 413 shown by Charles Mills.
    Most voices from December had seemed pretty high-pitched, almost metallic, but there were also some buzzy callers. FLIP-FLIP calls today included December types, BUT now also one LOWER in pitch -- altos. I didn't hear altos in December, so of course I'm all primed up to think we have yet another type. If so, it would be fore for the country club . . . OK, four.
    We had a flight of 24 crossbills at one point, with many other birds still visible in the pines. So how many crossbills today? Maybe 50. How many altos? At least several. Who are these altos? I have prepped an MP3 sound file and emailed it to Matt Young. I'll post the results.
    Besides Joan and I, there were three other birders sharing the course with Sunday morning golfers. One player we met mentioned a fine crossbill photograph now hanging at the club. This was a bit of generosity by David Oakley, golfer-birder-photographer.
    Such thoughtfulness enlarges the tent of interest.

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