HOME: www.hiltonpond.org

1-7 June 2005
Installment #272a---Visitor #

(Back to Preceding Week; on to Next Week)

Join us for another
Winter Hummingbird Expedition to Costa Rica
in November/December 2005 or February 2006


A long-time friend who recently got into birding visited Hilton Pond Center this week and marveled at how different the pond looks after a long, wet winter that filled it to the brim. On his last visit--two summers ago during the fifth year of an on-going drought--the pond was well on its way to becoming Hilton Bog; the water level was 'way down and the surface was only a third its current size. As we chatted about how glad we both were the impoundment was again at capacity, a smallish bird flew in and hunkered down on the dead branch of a Flowering Dogwood about 30 feet from our office window. It was an overcast day, so the bird looked pretty nondescript from where we sat--even when our friend grabbed binoculars for a closer look. After a minute or two of gazing at the bird with 8x magnification, the friend began ticking off field marks he could see: "Dark brownish-gray head . . . heavy black bill . . . big, dark eye . . . white eye ring . . . white chin and belly . . . breast and flanks marked with heavy brown spots . . . hmmmm."

And then, after a few minutes more, our friend lowered his optics, looked at us, and said, "What IS that bird." We just smiled and smugly replied, "C'mon, you KNOW what it is." We could afford to be smug because we, too, had been perplexed by this very species when we began birding, and we remember quite vividly when several more experienced birders got a chuckle out of our bewilderment.

Indeed, "What IS this bird?"

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

This week at Hilton Pond Center we didn't rub it in too hard on our friend, but we did attach a 400mm telephoto lens to our recently acquired Canon 20D digital camera body and--as a memento of our friend's frustration--snapped a few exposures of his "mystery bird." While snapping the shutter, we encouraged our friend by saying "Wait a minute to see if the bird turns around. When that happens you'll be surprised--but chances are you'll know what you've been looking at."

So what about you? Can you identify the fluffed-up bird in the photo above? Even if you already know what it is, click below for the side view and to learn more about our Hilton Pond

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

This Week at Hilton Pond
is part of the

Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this Web site--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.

FastCounter by bCentral