Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Few Southbound Migrants

I spent almost 4 hours birding the neighborhood this morning and found 42 species of birds. It was uncommonly quiet and peaceful on the streets even for a Sunday morning, and there was a light breeze. So I really enjoyed being out there once I left the house at around 7:20 AM. I was able to lose myself listening and looking for birds, without worrying about car traffic or other neighborhood noises. There are more early southbound migrating birds showing up. From the Lake Creek Trail footbridge I saw 3 Painted Buntings -- 2 females and 1 male. I got this picture of one of the females but the male never got close enough. (In the summer, any little green bird you see is likely a Painted Bunting female or young male. But in the winter, any little green bird you see could be an Orange-crowned Warbler or a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.)

Nearby I found 2 female Orchard Orioles bathing in the creek. More and more, I'm convinced that the Orchard Oriole we saw last weekend was migrating south. I could be wrong, but I don't think these birds summer in the neighborhood. I also saw and heard 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, the first I've seen this season. And I counted 6 Least Flycatchers. I even got this mediocre picture of one near the last dam on the creek. These are small and very active birds. Often you can hear their soft "pwit" call much easier than you can actually see them up in the treetops. In this picture you can see the white eye-ring, a characteristic of all Empidonax flycatchers. This is a very difficult group of birds to identify, and I've only recently started learning how to recognize a few of them.

I found the Tricolored Heron again. I assume it's the same juvenile bird I saw a couple weeks ago but I really have no way of knowing. I got to watch its active feeding style again and at one point I had the Tricolored Heron, a Green Heron, and a Snowy Egret in the same binocular view. Combined with hearing a cheering crowd from the nearby soccer fields, the experience was a little bit surreal! A little later I was able to get pretty close to the Tricolored Heron, and I got this picture before it got spooked and flew downstream.


Anonymous said...

I know absolutely nothing about birds or birding. I recently discovered at least 2 owls in my back yard and was wondering if you would be interested in taking pictures of them. I dont know if these owls are common or not, like I said, I know nothing about birds. :) you can email me at

Mikael Behrens said...

Hi! Most likely your owls are the small Eastern Screech-Owl. These are our most common neighborhood owl and they sure are fun to have around. The much larger Great Horned Owl is also a possibility. I wrote an article for my neighborhood association about both here.