Saturday, July 25, 2009

Late July Birding



It was a perfect morning to admire an azure summer sky, cottony clouds, and the comfort of a cool breeze. Now Bergamot, Queen Anne's-lace, and various coneflowers decorate the landscape at Pheasant Branch Conservancy's prairies and savanna, complimented by an assortment of butterflies; Monarchs, Black Swallowtails, skippers, and fritillaries.



Late July birding can be an enjoyable exercise in detecting what's present as well as what's absent. Yellow Warblers, so numerous only last month, seem to have already left their summer home. Clay-colored Sparrows were notably silent. Common Yellowthroats remain plentiful with adult males given to singing and young birds sounding alarm calls around every bend and thicket.



Sedge Wrens are still singing (do they ever stop?). Gray Catbirds are mewing. The lively songs of Indigo Buntings and Field Sparrows are punctuated with Eastern Kingbird and Willow Flycatcher calls; sounds that roll beautifully over the fields.



Two juvenile Red-tailed Hawks chased as an adult circled above on the lookout for a meal. One young hawk opted to take a loop around the prairie while its sibling demonstrated a preference to perch. I couldn't guess why they split up, but it wasn't long before the three raptors reunited, hovering in the wind above the western slope of the drumlin.



Location: Pheasant Branch
Observation date: 7/25/09
Number of species: 40

Mallard
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2009 Mike McDowell

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