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Date:         Sat, 23 Feb 2008 06:06:10 -0800
Reply-To:     Charlie <cmmbirds@YAHOO.COM>
Sender:       Georgia Birders Online <GABO-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From:         Charlie <cmmbirds@YAHOO.COM>
Subject:      Re: possible Snow Bunting sighting on GA coast
Comments: To: Brandon Best <sandfalcon@GMAIL.COM>
In-Reply-To:  <704ca6060802221528r1c246e33w2a11515dd59dbb18@mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1

Hi all,

While I agree that Snow Buntings are quite unusual in GA, I must respectfully disagree with a couple of Brandon's points. From what I've read here on GABO, Brandon sounds like a knowledgeable person. However I may possibly have more experience with Snow Buntings.

Having lived much of my life in New England and Maryland, I've seen this species many hundreds of times. I've seen flocks of hundreds at a time. Even after moving south, I've seen them most winters when we travel north - at Plum Island in Massachusetts, at the seashore in New Hampshire, at Sandy Point State Park in Maryland.

Yes, these guys are birds of the ground. But I have seen them fly into bushes many times. Most of the time I've seen this is when there is a flock of birds and one or two will sit low in a bush. Sometimes I've seen them light there after being scared up by a passing falcon.

Additionally, I believe that the majority of Snow Bunting records in the south are at or near the coast. I know that in Maryland the vast majority of records, including all annual locations, are either on the coast, or on a sandy are of the Chesapeake.

I do very much agree with Brandon that a leucistic bird is just about as worthy of note as a Snow Bunting.

Cheers!

Charlie Muise Lamar County --- Brandon Best <sandfalcon@GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> Greetings Suzanne, > > Thanks for making the post and welcome to GABO-L. The odds favor > that you > did not see a Snow Bunting. Snow Buntings, like the four longspur > species, > don't sit on shrubs. These are open country birds and are found > either in > flight or sitting on the ground. I can't be sure of what you saw > since I > didn't see it. If I had to guess, it would be an abnormal > individual > expressing partial albinism or a condition called leucism, which is > reduced > pigment, and thus the brown plumage and white head. Were there any > House > Sparrows nearby this bird? Who's to say that's what it was, but in > the > environment you described it would probably be one of the first > species I > would try to confirm or eliminate. > > While not as rare as a Snow Bunting in Georgia, it is still an > interesting > find. Each abnormal bird is a true roll of the die regarding how > their > abnormality will be expressed, the results run the gamut. At one > end, there > are birds with a single unexpected white feather and at the other > end are > true albinos with pink eyes and pigment-free talons and beaks. In > between, > you can see a few feathers, whole feather tracts, whole heads, > wings or > torsos, and on and on. Then to get really complex, you have > melanism which > is an extreme darkening of normally pale feathers, and then a whole > glossary > of hard to pronounce words which refer to extreme yellows or reds > or lack > thereof, among others. > > Brandon Best > Lawrenceville, GA > > ********** > To search GABO-L archives or manage your subscription, go to > http://www.listserv.uga.edu/archives/gabo-l.html > > To contact a listowner, send message to > GABO-L-request@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU > > To view GABO-L information/guidelines, go to > http://www.gos.org/gabo.html > >

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