Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Weekend Birding

Pheasant Branch Creek Corridor

To me, it seems like the creek corridor is quieter than normal for this time of year. We (Dottie, Sylvia, and I) are finding southbound migrants, just not in very impressive numbers. It's interesting how a natural area only a few miles away can yield such completely different results, like the 15 warbler species reported at Picnic Point yesterday. Compare that to the single Ovenbird and a few American Redstarts at Pheasant Branch. We've noticed substantially fewer flying insects this fall, so I wonder what role food availability may be having on bird numbers along the corridor.

Weather is an obvious factor. We've had several consecutive calm nights, but I know migratory birds prefer even just a slight tailwind to save energy and preserve their fat stores. Still, when walking down a quiet stretch of trail with so few bird vocalizations, it causes me to pause for a moment of reflection. Is this what birding will be like a few decades from now, but only every spring and fall? It's often illuminating to chat with birders who have a few decades on me; how they recall swarms of warblers covering the trees. Even in the 15 years I've been birding at Pheasant Branch, it seems each year that passes there are fewer birds to look at.

Well, who can complain when you've got a fairly curious and cooperative Barred Owl to observe and photograph? Plus, there is plenty of beauty in the form of flora along the corridor:

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (fruit)

False Solomon's Seal (fruit)



Oh! I almost forgot... ;)

This was the first time I've ever observed a wild Barred Owl eating! We were able to identify the food item as a Mourning Dove when it consumed one of the wings (not caught on video, unfortunately). Nevertheless, a very cool observation and the highlight of our weekend birding!

Weekend Birds at Pheasant Branch:

Canada Goose
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Barred Owl
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Wilson's Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch

© 2009 Mike McDowell


  1. I have never even thought of looking for Jack-in-the-pulpit fruit! Wow! We have some just behind our house in the woods. The owl eating is way cool. :)

  2. Great captures Mike, never get tired of your Barred Owl capture's !


  3. Yes..migrating warblers , peewees and phoebes in the woods near Kewaunee on Sept 5...oddest notice was RE Vireo feeding a begging fledgling!