Rusty Blackbird at Piper Spit

On Sunday a Rusty Blackbird was reported at Burnaby Lake’s Piper Spit. I’ve never had much luck trying to see this species in Vancouver; either the birds didn’t stick around long enough or they were located somewhere I couldn’t get to quickly because school or other commitments got in the way. Thankfully, this particular bird was hanging out at a spot not far from where I go to school at Simon Fraser University and it decided to hang out for a few days until I could see it!

Not more than five minutes after I arrived on scene yesterday did I sight the bird in a tree along the path to the boardwalk pier. It was amongst a small flock of Red-winged Blackbirds who would occasionally scold the new comer if it ventured into their personal space. The bird was hopping about the tree looking underneath the leaves for insects; at one point it perched on an outstretched branch for some excellent views. Having both Red-winged and Rusty Blackbirds in the same field of view so as to compare field marks certainly helped clinch the ID too! After several minutes observation the flock suddenly sprang from the tree and took flight before disappearing out of sight.

This gave me some time to check out what else was about and I immediately noticed a Peregrine Falcon perched atop a tree overlooking the ducks gathered about the mudflat area. The bird appeared quite content to sit and survey the many Mallards, Green-winged Teals, and Wood Ducks, as well as a couple of Gadwalls, who went about their business with only an occasional glance in the predator’s direction. The falcon must not have seen anything to it’s liking and eventually flew off; garnering only a minor response from the ducks.

A little while later the Rusty Blackbird made a reappearance as it perched on the handrail of the boardwalk. I then had the privilege to watch the bird at very close range eating the odd seed or bit of bread left by visitors. The blackbird would venture out and scrounge around the grass and shrubs, even underneath the boardwalk, until it found a meal and then returned to the cover of some long grass to chow down. At several times it was less than a meter away from where I stood and seemed quite unconcerned by my presence. This allowed me the opportunity to get a handful of some terribly poor photos by holding my phone to the eyepiece of my binoculars.

An easy lifer on my way home from university, without having to go miles out of my way; a pretty decent way to cap off a school day!

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