Saturday, February 24, 2007

Seasonal Changes

I was out birding for about 3 hours this morning and it was warmer that it has been in quite awhile. Besides the warmer temperature, there was some evidence of changing seasons in our local bird life too. Yellow-rumped Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet numbers were way down, and I did not see any Golden-crowned Kinglets. This tells me that these winter resident birds are probably starting to head north. I saw a flock of about 60 American Pipits by the playing fields, more than I've ever seen here before. I'm guessing that this group of birds is already heading north or preparing to head north. Some birds prepare for migration by "staging", gathering into large flocks to travel together.

I also saw several Common Grackles in the neighborhood this morning. I know these birds live here year-round and roost in the county flood plain property at night, but this is the first time I've seen them here in the daytime since November. I suspect they make seasonal changes in their daily travel habits which I'd be curious to learn more about.

The highlight of the morning was getting a great look at a Cooper's Hawk in one of the heavily wooded yards on Meadowheath. I usually only get fleeting glimpses of this woodland predator, but this bird stopped and let me look at it a bit. It looked like a young bird just starting to get its adult plumage. The eyes were orange (not red yet) and its cap and back were not as dark as a full adult's.

I ended up on Lake Creek a little further downstream than I usually walk. I took the pictures above in an area that I believe will be part of our future hike and bike trail. It was a beautiful breezy morning!

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