On the plus side, we’ve been getting wonderful birds at the feeders in our yard. Goldfinches, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Western Tanagers, Steller’s Jays, Scrub Jays, and for the last week we’ve had 3 male Lazuli Buntings, Passerina amoena, hanging around our yard.
The genus Passerina includes 7 species, all North American, and all “Buntings” or one sort or another. Passerina is one of the dozen or so genera in the Cardinalae family, which makes them fairly closely related to birds like Grosbeaks, Chats, and of course Cardinals.
The Lazuli Buntings are probably the most striking visitors in our yard right now. Like so many songbirds the males are spectacular (above left) and the females (pic right) rather dully colored.
Tangent: This characteristic- showy males and dull-looking females- seems weirdly analogous to the sex chromosomes being ass-backwards in birds relative to mammals.
The male Lazulis are also the main singers, and each has his own song that he develops over the course of his first year out on his own. Elements of songs are mimicked or copied from neighboring males, and so each neighborhood develops a “theme” of related, similar songs.
Lazuli Buntings are closely related to Indigo Buntings, Passerina cyanea, and occasionally hybridize with them.
Tangent: The Indigo Bunting winters in Central America but summers mainly all over the Eastern US, although it does makes its way to
Lazuli Buntings winter on the
Tangent: When the birds roused me in the darkness, I woke with an unsettled feeling, as though I had forgotten to do something, or made a mistake long, long ago, and just couldn't quite recall what it was. It felt like a big mistake, I just couldn’t place it. Lying there trying to track it down as I lost the thread linking me to my dreams, I remembered the date, May 7.
I mentioned a few days ago that 20 years ago this time I was in the thick of a cross-country motorcycle trip. On May 7, 1988, we reached
At sunset we reached the
I never really came home from that trip; I sometimes feel like I’m still on it. When I returned, I immediately started lobbying my then-girlfriend to move out West. 2 years later we eventually did, and that led to another stage of my life, and a whole other story. Eventually I ended up here. But it all started with that motorcycle trip 20 years ago.
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