If I haven't mentioned it, I've been hard at work on an article for Birds & Blooms magazine, which has kept birds top-of-mind for the last few weeks, and I seem to be noticing them more than ever. In the past 24 hours alone, I've spotted four new spring arrivals.
Yesterday afternoon, while I was sitting here at my desk, a red streak shot across my window. At first, I thought it was a cardinal (there are many in our neighborhood), but then I saw it perched in a nearby locust tree. It definitely wasn't a cardinal -- much too vivid. Ian suggested that it may be an escaped parrot. It turned out to be a male scarlet tanager. (His lady friend was here too, but she's almost exactly the same color as the leaves, so I couldn't find her in my photos.) The birds stayed for more than an hour, so I'm obsessively watching for them today. No luck yet.
And if that first-ever sighting wasn't enough, this morning, the first creature I saw outside was a male rose-breasted grosbeak, one of my all-time favorite birds because of its comic-book coloring. Soon after, a Baltimore oriole appeared at the little thimble of grape jelly John keeps outside for that very reason.
All this observing has led me to discover mystery birds that look quite a bit like Townsend's warblers, but if that's what they really are, they're about 1,000 miles off-course. Is anybody able to venture a guess?