A Bona Fide Hoary
In this great finch winter, I've watched religiously my little band of redpolls around the feeder, about 50-75 daily, for the statistically plausible one-in-a-hundred Hoary, with no luck. On Feb 1 one indisputable one showed up, again on Feb 2 and 4, and once thereafter; since then he's gone, tho the feeder gang still is going strong. A life bird for me.
Besides the relative whiteness of the bird, I was struck by the somewhat larger size, perhaps due to its puffing itself up--and out. I found in the old Audubon three-volume "Master Guide to Birding" this brilliant comment which others may find helpful (and which I don't recall seeing before in the literature): "Hoaries often droop their wings down to their sides, making the white rump easy to see." I found bill size impossible to discern, streaking a kind of subjective call, but this bird's slightly puffy appearance made it stand out in the mass of frenetic feeders and quick flyers.
The big sky landscape out here is lighter, brighter now, though the winter wind blows...but it won't be long!
Mike Becker, Harrison