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What is that mystery in the sky?

The Examiner

Are there any twitchers out there?

No, no, I don’t mean those afflicted by facial tics. Nor do I mean tweeters – this has nothing to do with that social media platform. Neither am I referring to twerkers, whose bottoms have been known to somewhat rhythmically move in an alarmingly suggestive manner to modern music.

Annie Dear

No, I mean bird watchers.

We have our usual twice-daily incoming gaggle of Canada geese who have, it appears, found something particularly tasty on the land visible from our back deck. They are occasionally accompanied by the odd mallard or two, but this weekend we saw a couple of newbies in the mix, and so, naturally, I flew to the computer to identify them.

I went to various bird identification websites, and no matter how specific I got with the description, the results weren’t within a bull’s roar of what I was looking for.

Bright orange legs, with (I think) webbed feet, basically black and white, with a very noticeable white crown and forehead. Bigger than a duck, smaller than a goose. It’s driving me potty not being able to find it.

Back in Australia I became quite a keen backyard bird watcher, as watching Aussie birds is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Each January I think quite nostalgically of what I would be doing were I in the land Down Under, and I would be sitting on the deck of our rented beach house, clutching my “What Bird is That?” book and noting all the species who would come visit.

One year, during a particularly nasty drought, I clocked over 30 different types of birds coming to visit hoping for some food and water, both of which I provided. Rainbow lorikeets, king parrots, cockatoos, kookaburras – you name it, it was there.

I have to confess that in the Midwest I’ve found in comparison, birds are a pretty dull bunch. If it isn’t a blue jay or cardinal, they’re all a pretty drab brown, black or gray – a little like all the cars you see on the freeway. Occasionally I will spot a bright yellow tiny winged creature, but again, my research has availed me of no advanced knowledge as to what it could have been as it flitted across my vision.

I must confess I do love our warmer weather guests, the hummingbirds who I find utterly beguiling and charming. I don’t recall ever seeing one in Australia, so they are still a thing of wonder to me. Each year I put out the feeder replete with five well-spaced holes and perches for the dear little things to dine ‘en famille’, but they’re terribly territorial, and so I watch in amusement as they spend an awful lot of their time seeing each other off the premises and not actually feeding.  It’s only if one makes a sneak appearance by itself that I can watch it flit on the feeder.

So, dear reader, do let me know if you recognize my description of the white-headed birds I saw – I’m tired of fruitless searches and sleepless nights.            

Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at