Sunday, July 12, 2009

Orioles, Martins, Hawk

This morning I spent about 2 hours birding our neighborhood hike-and-bike trail, starting at the new Parmer Village development and working my along the creek upstream to the footbridge on the other side of the playing fields. Despite the heat I found 40 species of birds, and I observed the first evidence of southward fall bird migration in the neighborhood I've seen this year. In the woods near the last dam on the creek I found 2 Orchard Orioles, a first year male and a female. These birds are an early south-bound migrant in central Texas and several were also recorded yesterday during the monthly bird survey at Hornsby Bend. I got this bad picture of the female.

In the T&C playing fields I found about 20 Purple Martins perched on the light posts. In years past, these playing fields have been a roosting site for large groups of Purple Martins around this time of year. After breeding, martins assemble in large communal roosts which may or may not be related to their upcoming southward migration. In the next few weeks watch for larger and larger groups of these birds over the playing fields, in particular over the large baseball diamond. Here's a post I made about the martins gathering here in July of 2007.

Near the footbridge I was excited to find an adult Cooper's Hawk in the creek bed. Cooper's Hawks are common winter residents in our neighborhood, but only a few breed here during the summer. And it's always fortunate to see one because they usually stay hidden in the forest canopy. They specialize in hunting other birds, so they have relatively short wings and a long tail for maneuvering between tree branches when they're chasing their prey. This one soon flew back into the woods as I approached, but I got this poor picture showing its dark cap and red eye.


Aaron DaMommio said...

I would think that the reason Martins assemble into large communal roosts for breeding would be obvious: efficient bragging.

Little Mama said...

SWEET hawk pic! What an awesome sight!

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks, I wish I could have gotten closer to that hawk!