Sunday, March 7, 2010

NASWC Bird Walk

11 folks participated in the NASWC Bird Walk this morning. It was dark, overcast and a little cold, but the rain held off and we had a great time finding 44 species of birds. Here are the highlights.
  • We started off in the Braes Valley parking lot of Lake Creek Trail watching a mixed flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds and female Red-winged Blackbirds. We were surprised and very interested to see a Brown-headed Cowbird bow its head and get preened by one of the blackbirds. The cowbird actually followed the blackbird around, bowing its head and the blackbird kept preening it. I got this poor photo. You can see the slight difference in bill shapes between the 2 species.
  • A little further down the trail we watched a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks adding nesting material to their nest in someone's backyard across the creek.
  • We saw 3 species of woodpeckers on the walk. We first heard and then saw a male Downy Woodpecker, then a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Later in the woods we found a bright male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and we watched it forage by flying to several fresh rows of holes it had created on tree trunks.
  • A few of us walked across the playing fields to find Northern Shovelers, American Wigeon, and 6 Greater Yellowlegs on the creek. On our way back we saw this Great Egret in its breeding plumage.

  • At 10:15 back by the cars there were about 10 Cave Swallows flying overhead.


Dawn said...

Great photos!

That is very interesting the way the cowbird was preened by the blackbird. Perhaps these two were caught up in Spring Fever. I cannot tell which is male & female. I wonder if the cowbird will lay her eggs in the blackbird's nest if that is the way the genders go. :-)

Mikael Behrens said...

Hi Dawn,

My guess is that this was just compatible inter-species behavior that didn't have anything to do with breeding and nesting. All birds have to preen their feathers and most will preen each other's feathers when together. So it's probably not uncommon for similar species to preen each other when in a mixed flock. Especially if the species are similar.

Dawn said...

I'll bet you're right, Mikeael. Though sometimes we do see some odd behavior in our garden: I'm still trying to get a photo of our cardinal feeding the goldfish. It does happen occasionally. :-)