2birdfeature #9: Tiny, but not shy

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Perhaps one of the best mornings I have experienced, an unhurried sunrise made up of what must have been the feathers of millions of flamingos and tanagers. Early June. Just north of Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Right near a tiny town called Goose Arm which, at its peak population in 1921, had 76 total residents.

Almost as a sign of good faith, minutes after I lost cell reception, a Willow Ptarmigan ambled across the road in front of my headlights. I drove around the belly of the lake to the upper end where my survey sites were located and hiked down to the lip of the shore to begin working. I was hoping for an early morning Olive-sided Flycatcher but the lake presented me with this little fellow instead.

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A minute little warbler; an indispensable part of the summer woodlands of Canada. Quick and flitting from tree to tree but unmistakable with his bold stripes and stocky build. The Black-and-white Warbler is a relentless hunter of tiny insects and spiders and a brave migrator that winters in Central and South America.

Upon completion of my lower surveys, I headed back up to the road where I met a jolly, if not sluggardly, band of "mopes." Nicknamed by Newfoundlanders for their tendency to loiter in driveways and at feeders, seemingly unfazed and brazen in the face of human pursuit, Pine Grosbeaks are a common bird in the forests of Newfoundland.

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Pine Grosbeaks (also called Pine Rosefinch) are a large, long-tailed finch with conical, hook-tipped bills. They inhabit forests comprised of larch, spruce, cedar and fir. They eat seeds, buds, shoots and small fruits but will occasionally take a grasshopper or a handful of aphids. Though they do migrate in some parts of the world, the Pine Grosbeaks in Newfoundland are largely year-round residents.

If you are in Newfoundland and you want a pseudo-hermit type camping trip at a beautiful lake (that the Newfies have deemed a pond), this is the place for you. I saw moose here and loads of songbirds. I hear it's not bad for fishing either.

We're migrating south, back to FL for Wednesday's blog! See you then!

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