Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Northern Jack!

Often first year birds tend to wander out of their normal range. This year one of those, a Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa) has wandered out of coastal Mexico or Central America to our Lower Rio Grande Valley. Aka "the Jesus Bird", so called because it seems to walk on water with its incredibly huge feet. I have been out mornings scouting places where it has been sighted or could be sighted - standing and waiting, waiting, waiting, Lorna even more, because she is more patient and dedicated. We have only been able to see the bird at an extreme distance. 

This morning we waited. The bird showed up far off on the edge of the reeds on the next pond to the west. After a long time of looking at a little brown blob "way the hell out there", a few watchers wandered off. Normally I would too, but today we hung in there "just a little longer". Eventually there were just four of us left, Lorna and I, and a couple from Oklahoma. The bird came closer, not so close you could really see it with the naked eye, but it was there! Suddenly it flew closer and we scrambled to get to a better vantage. We got settled in with the binoculars and now it was even in long camera range. Then the show, it lifted off, shit! it's leaving .... but no, instead of flying away it floated closer and settled down in the cattails 40 or 50 feet from us and it spent ten minutes working the edges right in front of us. 

This bird is in mid-molt, changing from its juvenile light color to a rich chestnut brown, dark neck and head, and yellow flight feathers.

I can die now ... or maybe I will just die until the next rare bird comes along. - Gunnar B.

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