Pine Grosbeak at touching distance

Late in the afternoon of Tuesday 16 November 2004, 17 days after discovering a Western Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica at Eemshaven (Zekhuis et al 2005), Jacob Bosma found two Pine Grosbeaks Pinicola enucleator close to his home in Groningen (Bosma et al 2005). Both species were new to virtually every birder in the country. Again I travelled up north, this time with Arnoud van den Berg, early the next morning. It was still dark when we arrived. We joined the many birders already present and waited for the grosbeaks to appear. Meanwhile, watching the astonished faces of unsuspecting local residents upon opening their window curtains was rather entertaining.

That morning both grosbeaks spent much time feeding on the ground on fallen rowan berries. Apart from their beautiful appearance, their lack of fear of humans is something I will always remember. The presence of more than 100 admirers did not bother them at all. They were literally showing at touching distance. Cats and dogs, however, had them up safe in the trees instantly!...

Other birds I have had memorably close encounters with concern northern species such as Eurasian Dotterel Charadrius morinellus, Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus, Red Phalarope P fulicarius, Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus, Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes and Hornemann’s Redpoll Acanthis hornemanni hornemanni. The latter was an adult male at Huisduinen from 11 to 15 October 2003, representing the first sighting of this taxon for the Netherlands (van den Berg et al 2007). But also species from other parts of the world can be very confiding. In October 1994, for example, I watched an Asian Desert Warbler Sylvia nana hopping over shoes at Scheveningen (Remeeus 1995), and a year later I saw a juvenile Rosy Starling Pastor roseus eating berries from hands on Texel (for example Dutch Birding 30: 242, plate 289). Wild birds can be very tame!

Pine Grosbeak intobirding.com

Rather distant view of a Pine Grosbeak...

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Published 2 June 2018