Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Three-Explanation-Point Report

Prairie Warbler

DOUG KURZ, Reports on the burgeoning Migration

Since my last "Ramblings" post on Tuesday, every day this week could be summed up by birder par excellence Roger Pasquier's comment of Thursday morning: "It's similar to yesterday, but less."  Mainly, the same birds were around since the Tuesday influx, but with a certain degree of attrition going on during the week.  However, this was balanced by a few straggling arrivals, so that there is always a good reason to go birding!  Besides, we never know when the next wave will hit, so I just can't stay home because of FOMO (fear of missing out).

Thursday and Friday were rather chilly, with Friday morning being particularly challenging - cold, windy, and cloudy.  This morning (Saturday) we started out just as cold, but with more sun and reduced winds, so that things were feeling rather nice by noon or 1pm.  That makes for good birding, as the increasing warmth brought out song and activity even past noon.

Thursday morning I had the good fortune to bird with Chris Cooper.  Friday I was with John Day's team for the annual International Crane Foundation Birdathon.  Go to to learn more about this foundation and it's work worldwide.  The team comprised John and Judy Day, Richard Lieberman, and Carol Wood, with Eve Levine in absentia (missed you Eve)!  This morning I ran into many birding friends along the way, and also crashed Birding Bob's group walk for a spell.  It's always entertaining to get a dose of Bob's inimitable humor, and I appreciate that he lets me tag along occasionally.

Now, to the birds.  SOME HIGHLIGHTS:  Belted Kingfisher (Thurs., Turtle Pond), White-eyed Vireo (Fri., Upper Lobe, and seen Sat. By Joe Giunta's group at Maintenance), Pine Siskin (Fri., Evodia feeders, thanks Bob), bright male Hairy Woodpecker (Fri., Point), Peregrine Falcon (Fri., Reservoir, often perching right on the dyke in the middle), gorgeous male Indigo Bunting (Sat. late morning at Warbler Rock, later reported bathing at Triplett's Bridge).

Warblers continue to be represented by Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped, Black-and White, and Louisiana Waterthrush.  A sole Prairie was in the Point/Oven area until early Thursday.  A Northern Parula showed up along the south side of Turtle Pond during the week, and remains there.  There were several Northern Waterthrush earlier in the week, but Thurs-Fri-Sat it was all Louisiana.  Remember bubble-gum pink legs, unstreaked central throat area, white eyestripe even when the underparts are a bit yellowish, and that business of undulating the rear third of the body up and down ("sashaying"), which could inspire many colorful metaphors.  Singing Pine Warblers continue in many places, although the proportion of drab females has increased.  By noon today, several more Parula had shown up - one of several indications that more birds were coming in as the cold subsided ... maybe tomorrow will be pretty good!

Sparrows have included Chipping, Swamp, Song, Savannah and Field, in addition to the ubiquitous White-throated Sparrows.  Chipping and Field have been at the feeders, but also scattered elsewhere.  Friday we had Field in 3-4 locations, but missed Savannah.  There have been Savannah all other days.  Juncos continue, and Towhees are readily seen.  

This morning, the early action was at the south side of the Turtle Pond.  At one point, all the birds concentrated at the mudflats in the southeast corner.  There were at one time two Savannah Sparrows there, along with Song, Swamp and White-throated Sparrows; Pine, Palm, Yellow-rumped and Parula Warblers; Hermit Thrush; American Robin; Cowbird, Grackle and Red-wing ... ALL on or around those mudflats at water's edge at the same time!  

Other birds of note include two female-type Purple Finches frequenting the feeders.  These have been heard singing.  Cornell's website states that females do sing, but normally only from the nest.  We all know that 1st year males look identical to females.  But are these birds singing females, or are they 1st year males?  The question is, when do the males develop the pinkish color, during the first year, or after their first spring at 1+ years of age?  Perhaps someone can answer this for me.

Winter Wren was seen Fri and Sat at the stump of the former Swampy Pin Oak.  Brown Thrasher at Maintenance Sat.  Two male Wood Ducks at Turtle Pond Fri., a pair of Gadwall Sat.  Gnatcatchers scattered about Thurs and Fri, but none seen by me Sat.  Blue-headed Vireo, 2-3 seen every day.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets continue in numbers, but watch for those lingering drab Pine Warblers!  Woodpeckers are represented by Downy, Flicker, Red-bellied, plus the one Hairy on Friday.  No more

The feeders remain active, with many American Goldfinch, as well as House Finch, Purple Finch (last week's purple males replaced by female-type), Chipping, Field, Song and White-throated Sparrows, Cowbirds, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Dove, Cardinal, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse, occasional Black-capped Chickadee, and Friday's Pine Siskin.

I expect new birds tomorrow, based on the Indigo Bunting and additional Parulas showing up mid-day.  Just my gut feeling ...

Happy Birding !!!
Doug Kurz