Remember how we did the World Series of Birding back in May? Well, there are 2 women that coordinate that event and do a great job at it - Marleen and Sheila. They are really nice ladies. The kind that always give you a big hug and seem happy to see you even when they are busy. They are birders and work for NJ Audubon in various capacities at the store in Cape May etc. They don't send text messages or alerts about bird sightings from their personal accounts often but they did today. About 8:00 AM, they sent out a text about a Painted Bunting flying over a field in West Cape May. I didn't pay it much attention since it was flying over a field and probably headed south somewhere. Then another text came in stating that the bird, an adult male, was seen at a feeder at Hidden Valley Ranch so I succumbed and headed over.
Well, it turns out that the bird was at Marleen and Sheila's feeder! Of course, it was gone by the time that I got there. A NJ Audubon volunteer was there keeping watch for the bird. We stood there for 45 minutes. No bird. I finally gave up because I had to go to the bathroom so I went to the pizza place to get a slice, the mandatory Diet Coke and the restroom. I went back and was told those words that you never want to hear - "you just missed it. He was just here a minute ago". Of course. So I stood there for another 45 minutes. No bird. I finally gave up again and went back to the house to pack up. Then I got another text message - 'PABU still at Marleen and Sheila's feeder'. Crap. So I went back.
This time, I was rewarded by the most colorful bird in America. The male Painted Bunting.
Now, I know that this isn't the best photo of a Painted Bunting, but the bird was backlit by bright afternoon sun and didn't pose like this for long. But you should be able to see how colorful this bird is. He has a bright green back, red breast and bright blue head. It's like a kid's coloring book bonanza. Here is another photo of the bird after he flew under Marleen and Sheila's butterfly bush. You can see how blue the head is here.
You would think that a bird that is this gaudily colored would be EASY to find. Not so. Just to give you an idea of what I was looking at when I took the photo above, here is the scene zoomed out.
Look really hard, the bird is in there. Click on the image to enlarge it, then zoom some more, then look really hard again. The bird is dead center of the photo.
Anyway, that is a long-winded way of saying that it wasn't easy but definitely rewarding.