Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Great Spring Morning!

I'm sure there are many things worse than having a common cold in May, but the drowsiness, sniffles and scratchy throat didn't keep me from joining a group of birders this morning at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. The moment I got out of my car, I heard a pair of Black-throated Green Warblers singing "zee-zee-zee-zoo-zee," closely followed by the upward "zzzzzzzhhht" of a Northern Parula. Before I even got 20 feet away from my car I was already up to 10 warbler species, and the morning was still young.

Though I birded the first several minutes alone, I was soon joined by a birder friend and we watched a Black-throated Green warbler sing and forage at eye-level. We were both amazed when it made an impressive acrobatic flip and secured itself to a perch with a green caterpillar in its bill (munch, munch, munch!)

Soon we were joined by more birders, including a group of kids with their Mom. It's sure great to see them enjoying and appreciating nature instead of watching Saturday morning cartoons or playing video games. Most among us couldn't remember seeing so many Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in one place. Remarking last fall on the number of Blue-headed Vireos that went through the conservancy, their numbers seem to be holding pretty well on the journey home.

So many colorful sprites and songs filled the stream corridor canopy this morning – what would come next, we wondered? There! Did you hear that? Chestnut-sided Warbler! Look there…it's a Blackburnian Warbler! Ovenbirds sang out. A Wood Thrush could be heard further down the trail. Naturally, I had forgotten all about my annoying cold. Then one of the most dramatic spring migrants you can see appeared against the fresh foliage - a gorgeous male Scarlet Tanager. There we were, birders from all age groups gazing up into the trees with our binoculars, fixed upon a single bright red and black bird rewarding our sense of awe. I think one of the kids said it best, “Wow, that Scarlet Tanager is so awesome!

Wood Duck
Cooper's Hawk
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
European Starling
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

Scarlet Tanager image © 2007 Mike McDowell

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