Bear Creek: Bird Walk

May 25, 2018

by Tim Burris, Mariton Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus.

Josh Saltmer, at Bear Creek Preserve, held a bird walk last Friday. Some of the birders from Mariton rode up to Bear Creek for the walk.  There was a good corps of very good birders on the walk who helped people find birds.  We were also fortunate to have Claudia Steckel on this walk.  Claudia was a preserve manager when I first joined Natural Lands.  She is an amazing botanist and now does plant inventories for lots of organizations.  In fact, she did the plant inventory for Bear Creek Preserve.  Claudia added a really nice overview of the ecology of Bear Creek for everyone on the walk.  I absolutely love having her on Mariton’s bird walks, because her knowledge of plants is so vast.  Carole couldn’t make this walk, but I decided to use some of Carole’s photos from past walks and locations to illustrate some of what we saw.

The “price of admission” bird was definitely the Canada Warbler that eventually ventured close enough to the trail for everyone to see. I have only ever seen a couple of these.  I was pretty thrilled when I saw it back in the woods.  I was totally shocked when it came close enough to view without binoculars.  This is a spectacular bird that I hope is starting to come back from steep declines in its population.

Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warblers were everywhere. I think we came across different couples that were nesting, because they came right up to us on different occasions.  In those cases, we tried to move on quickly.  When you come across birds acting flustered it is a good practice to keep moving to a distance where the birds calm down.  What may be entertaining for humans is actually a mechanism designed to lead predators (us) away from the nest. Everyone would rather that the bird continues to incubate it eggs, or feed its young.  Their alarm calls and actions to distract us could actually attract real nest predators and endanger the nest, so it is better to look from a safe distance.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warblers were also abundant. These birds don’t sit still for long, but I think we eventually got everyone a view of one.  This is another spectacular bird with its shiny yellow cap and the chestnut outline.  It also has a unique song.

Black-throated Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warblers were also singing along our walk. They were a little harder to find, but the blue of this bird is truly stunning.  I was really happy to participate on this walk with Josh, and I know that the Mariton birders were glad they got to see a slice of another Natural Lands preserve.