Am back today after a trip to Arizona, where I had the opportunity to bird
at a magical place called Montezuma Well - a natural limestone sinkhole 368
feet in diameter, with 70-foot interior cliffs. It's a unique ecosystem, a
tiny oasis in the middle of the desert, about an hour south of Flagstaff.
Will not burble on about the exciting western species I saw, but I do want
to comment about the two birds in the subject line - likely not Vermont
individuals! but definitely Vermont species (as opposed to the numerous
Western Bluebirds I saw, which my Sibley shows as a different species from
our Eastern Bluebirds).
The kinglet was acrobatically foraging in dappled sunlight near the exterior
outlet of the well. It clung to and picked at the bark of what I believe
(from the interpretive signage) were Velvet Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica ssp.
velutina) and Arizona Walnut (Juglans major) trees. At times it was as close
as four feet from me before it flitted further away. Being January, the
deciduous trees and shrubs were leafless, so I had gorgeous views of the
kinglet and longed for a decent camera!
One hundred fifty feet away and separated from the kinglet's feeding area by
a huge wall of rock, the hermit thrush was foraging in the shade on the
ground near the swallet (the interior outlet of the well). To my amazement,
I watched it eat five or six poison ivy berries! I expect many birders on
this list already know that some bird species eat poison ivy berries, but it
was an astounding bit of new learning for me. I'm curious about the
physiology that allows the poison-ivy-feeding species to do that. Any