Saturday, May 05, 2012
Some Song Challenges
Baltimore Orioles returned to Pheasant Branch Conservancy earlier this week. You've probably seen them in your backyard or neighborhood. Right now the creek corridor is filled with their cheerful and melodious songs and calls. I found just one of the orioles on May 1st, but then a whole bunch arrived the following morning after a really big night of bird migration. I put out my oriole feeder at my apartment but I'm not having the luck I experienced last spring. It's interesting to note changes–subtle to extreme–in bird activity from one year to the next.
We had a rather humbling experience at Pheasant Branch Conservancy this morning. My group identified a singing Cerulean Warbler by song when another birder came along and convinced us it was a Black-throated Blue Warbler. After several minutes of trying to locate the bird in the dense foliage, Dottie Johnson finally got on it with her binocular and it turned out to be a Cerulean after all. I should have gone with my gut! During this same time Charles Naeseth announced he heard a Yellow-throated Warbler song. After following the bird song for a few minutes, both Jesse Peterson and I got on it simultaneously and it turned out to be a Chestnut-sided Warbler (we watched it sing the song we were listening to). The descending part of the song seemed like a perfect match for a Yellow-throated Warbler, but the ending wasn't quite right. However, it was a close enough match to fool even a well-seasoned birder like Charles.
We got nice looks at a couple of Scarlet Tanagers. When I first arrived I heard a singing Veery and Wood Thrush. I haven't entered my eBird report yet, but I think we had either 17 or 18 warbler species; Blackburnian, Magnolia, Orange-crowned, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Tennessee, Nashville, Palm, Yellow-rumped, and others. My only first-of-spring bird was Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The dense leaf-out is making it super difficult to actually see birds and relying on song seemed a bit tricky with a few birds this morning. I could have easily been convinced of a Yellow-throated Warbler had I not seen the responsible singer. Bird every bird!
Baltimore Oriole image © 2012 Mike McDowell