Friday, October 9, 2020

Birdy surprises on our trip

This past week, we traveled to northwest Arkansas for our periodic Eureka Springs fix. Along the way, we stopped for gas in Gainesville, Texas. I was quite surprised when I looked out my car window and saw this mostly WHITE great-tailed grackle. He/she wandered around a bit on the parking lot, then took off with a big flock of other BLACK grackles. Wow!

UPDATE: Birder Joseph Neal from Arkansas informed me that we saw a leucistic grackle. "Leucistic" means a partial loss of pigmentation. Here's an explanation of the difference between leucistic and albinism.

On our last night in Eureka Springs, we walked downtown and sat on a bench in Basin Park. The sun had just about set. Overhead, I heard chimney swifts. I looked up. There were dozens and dozens of them flying and swooping over the Basin Spring Bath House. I got up from the bench and walked across Spring Street for a better look. Then I kept going. James followed. I walked across the pedestrian bridge that goes over N. Main Street, then down the bath house's stairs. We ended up in the big parking lot, where we watched in amazement and took videos (see mine below) while the swifts soared in circles and, one by one, dove into the chimney.  

Finally, one lone swift flew around by itself. Was it maybe a bat, we wondered. Then a second swift showed up, and together they disappeared into the chimney. Such a cool surprise to witness! I'm thinking the bath house may be serving as a communal roost for the swifts, who overwinter in the upper Amazon basin of Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Brazil. Awesome!


sandy lawrence said...

What a great post! We used to take my grandmother to Eureka Springs often when I was a child and we loved the natural surroundings there.
That white grackle has to be super rare, doesn't it? I'm wanting to know all about it and will do some research. I've never seen one before now.
I love Swifts. We have them here and I would love to have a grouping of 3 chimneys built in the meadow for them. There are plans for that especially for Swifts online. Unfortunately, no stone masons nor brick layers in the family, so I'm sure it would be a very costly undertaking, but I still think it would be a great idea.
They tried building in the corner on top of the edging around the inside our front entry but finally gave up because - well, it's the front door! People kept coming in and going out and they didn't like that.
Thank you for this interesting post!

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Just for you, I updated this post and added an explanation of "leucistic." :)

We'd love to have a chimney swift roost too.

Do you think you had barn swallows trying to build on your entry? Those are the ones that people typically have nesting under eaves and on porches.

sandy lawrence said...

THANK YOU, Sheryl!

sandy lawrence said...

I'm pretty sure those were Chimney Swifts, Sheryl, but I'm going to look up barn sparrows just to make sure and I'll let you know. There's plenty of mud for whatever they were because we live on a river.

mike said...

nice blog.

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