Did you ever take a walk in an "ordinary" place where you do not expect to see something unique? I was walking in Central Park a few weeks ago and saw dozens of small birds under the pine trees. The birds were sparrow size. The male was red-orange - looking like he was dipped in color - except for his black wings. The wings had unusual white bars. The female was larger. She wore pale yellow, with the distinctive white wing bars. I looked intently at them, trying to memorize field markings and enjoying their presence. I wanted to return the next day with binoculars. It rained. The following day they were gone. The park was probably a stop-over. I discovered that they often chatter away in spruce or conifer trees, eating voraciously. According to Cornell Lab All About Birds, individual White-winged Crossbills can eat up to 3,000 conifer seeds each day! (I would like to know who is counting!) Look carefully at the picture and see that their bills do "cross" so that they can harvest the seeds of the pine cones. That was the detail that I couldn't see without my binoculars. Nevertheless, these beautiful birds will go on my life list since they were the first crossbills I have ever seen.

So the lesson comes again and again- never take the ordinary for granted. Treasures are everywhere!

Do you have a story of seeing or hearing an extraordinary creature in an ordinary place?

Photos courtesy of eBirds


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