Sunday, January 16, 2011

40 Minutes in the Rain

American CrowThis morning at brunch I was telling a friend that this weekend was the first I could remember in a long time that I hadn't spent at least one morning birding. This was of course because of the cold rainy and misty weather we've had both mornings. I enjoyed sleeping in, but I missed seeing some neighborhood birds. So even though the rain persisted, this afternoon I spent about 40 minutes on the streets around my house. As soon as I crossed the street I heard the subtle chip notes of small foraging songbirds. When I looked up I realized the trees were alive with birds! I estimated there were 4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 3 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 4 Orange-crowned Warblers, 3 Carolina Chickadees, 2 American Goldfinches, 1 Blue-headed Vireo, and 1 male Downy Woodpecker. Neat! But the best was yet to come...

As I studied the flock I heard an American Crow cawing. Then another. Then another and another. They were making a huge racket nearby, but I couldn't tear myself away from the mixed species flock of songbirds. Finally I figured I'd found all the birds in the mixed flock, so I started to follow the crows. They seemed to be on the south side of Chester Forest and I photographed one and got a neat profile shot (above).

American Crows often mob hawks and owls, since the hawks and owls will prey on crow nestlings, and also maybe because they compete with the crows. So when you hear lots of crows making lots of noise, you can usually find a hawk or an owl in the middle of them. This was the case today! I finally found a single Great Horned Owl in the trees below the crows. It was far away and the light was terrible, but I managed to get this poor photo. At least you can see one of its huge yellow eyes.

Great Horned Owl

I'm glad I went out in the rain!

I updated the blog's layout yesterday, and I added an eBird widget to the right-hand column. It shows birds that have been reported to eBird from our neighborhood in the last 30 days. I hope you find it interesting!

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