Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Chill in the Air!

"April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go."

― Christopher Morley

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow numbers have been steadily increasing this past week along the creek corridor, seemingly synchronized with the first purple violets blooming. These and other birds are defying the oscillating northwest and northeast winds. Migratory birds tend to move en masse when there's a tailwind, but some will punch through even when conditions are less favorable. Some come, and some go. Birders call them "new arrivals" while my friend Dottie calls them "replacements."

Palm Warbler

Naturally, the northern winds carried in colder temperatures. Nearly each morning this past week I've been finding Tree Swallows at the confluence pond huddled together on branches using their body heat to keep warm. They select areas out of the wind and close to the water. One morning the temperatures dipped into the twenties and we even had snow flurries. The swallows were not pleased, but their strategy to preserve body heat appears to be working well for them.

Tree Swallows

Tree Swallow

This time of year thick underbrush is a good place to look for sparrows and towhees. When pishing to see what was in one particular patch, this Eastern Towhee popped out and uttered a curious jorree call (or was it an alarm?) Well, it wasn't too upset and quickly dropped back down to the ground to continue foraging for whatever it could find by scratching into the soil.

Eastern Towhee

The creek corridor Great Horned Owls have at least two young owlets. The pair relocated a couple of months ago to the line of trees by the confluence ponds. Though the old cavity served them well for several successful nesting seasons, they will probably be less prone to disturbances at their new location. Plus, it has a nice perch just outside the entrance!

Great Horned Owl

Belted Kingfishers zoom up and down the creek corridor throughout the day, making their rattling calls at the first sight of anyone approaching. It's rare that I can catch one perched out in the open long enough to photograph. Though I'm not sure of the species, there are plenty of fish in the creek for them to eat. This male Belted Kingfisher kept a watchful eye on me, but eventually sped off down the creek in search of another fishing perch.

Belted Kingfisher

Spotted Sandpipers are returning to the confluence ponds. This particular bird chose the perfect spot to warm up in the sun's toasty rays. Hopefully next week's warming trend will be a lasting one and birds will be able to spend more of their time making preparations for spring's nesting season.

Spotted Sandpiper

All images © 2015 Mike McDowell

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