While in Florida last weekend, the National rare bird alert texts were flooding my I-phone. New Jersey’s first EVER Eurasian Tree Sparrow was frequenting a feeder in Cape May. 57 people had reported it by noon on Sunday! Admittedly, this bird was never on my “need to have” list. It was introduced to St. Louis, Missouri in 1870 from Europe and has pretty much stayed as a local specialty THERE. It looks very much like our typical House Sparrow (“LBJ”- Little Brown Job) but with a rusty brown cap as the distinguishing feature v. the abundant House Sparrow’s gray cap. Somebody was really paying attention to pick out this little fellow.
A business trip to Boston on Monday and Tuesday kept me 500 miles away from Lifer #696. On Wednesday I (finally!) closed on our new chic urban townhouse in Manayunk. So yesterday…Thursday, with a mind more focused on this weekend’s adventure to the King Ranch in Texas, I took off for Cape May before dawn – despite the fact that NO REPORTS of our Midwestern visitor had been posted on the Listserv since Monday evening.
I arrived at Cape May Point at 7am, expecting to see throngs of birders. I was alone. “Am I the only birding adult benefiting from spring break”, I wondered out loud. Maybe the birding authorities already pronounced this wayward sparrow as an escaped exotic…but failed to inform me. More likely, anyone that cared had already seen this very cooperative bird. I drove slowly down Harvard Ave. in search of number 113. For Sale, For Rent, pretty barren bird-wise until I saw one yard decorated with hanging, stocked feeders. It took me no more than twenty seconds to pick out this surprisingly beautiful avian from the crowd of starlings, mourning doves and house sparrows.
While many are debating over who will make the NCAA Final Four hoops Tourney….I have placed a wager on MY FINAL FOUR. Tip-off is tomorrow morning in Harlingen.