Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Few Rarities

Nature enthusiasts have been treated to several avian rarities in Pennsylvania this summer, and since it's been awhile since I've posted anything on birds I thought I'd share the news about these feathered visitors. None of the photos below are of the actual birds found in Pennsylvania this summer, but they are pics of birds of the same species.

The first is a Roseate spoonbill which inhabits wetlands along the coast in the southern states but rarely ventures as far north as the mid-atlantic region and even more rarely as far inland as Pennsylvania.

Even so, there were two of them present in the state last month within forty miles of each other. One of them is still here. Notice the oddly shaped bill which the spoonbill uses to push mud around as it probes for insects, worms, and other delicacies:

Roseate spoonbill
The second is a small heron that also is found along the southern coasts and very rarely inland this far north. Yet there was one, and maybe two of these birds in PA at the end of July as well.

It's called a Tricolored heron and the reason I said that there may have been two of them is that when one bird was no longer being seen a second one was discovered at a lake only about twenty miles away from where the first was originally found.

Tricolored heron
The third visitor is the most remarkable. It's called a White-winged tern and it's indigenous to eastern Europe and central Asia:

Yellow is its breeding range. Blue is where it winters
How this lovely bird found its way to a small lake in the mountains of north central Pennsylvania this week is a mystery, but its striking black and white plumage and extreme rarity (it may be the only Pennsylvania White-winged tern on record) have been delighting birders and photographers who've been making the trek to Tioga Co. to see it for several days now:

White-winged tern
The natural world is full of beautiful jewels, and birds are among its most gorgeous treasures. To see these creatures in real life can sometimes take one's breath away.