Crow’s Nest Bird Surveys

March 20, 2013

Volunteers Scott Stollery and Nikki Flood have been conducting bird surveys at Crow’s Nest Preserve for several years and are gathering data for a seasonal guide to birds here. Scott and Nikki contribute the following:

It has been another productive winter of bird surveys at Crow’s Nest, and, now that we are on the cusp of spring, we have had some particularly interesting observations. On March 11, a huge gaggle of wild turkey were seen foraging in a field near the refurbished barn. There were approximately 71 wild turkey observed, which is by far the largest number ever seen at Crow’s Nest. A quality control volunteer on eBird also believed that it was one of the larger flocks ever reported in Chester County. It truly was a sight to see, but, like always, the elusive wild turkey have moved on, and they have not been seen since. It is amazing that birds of that size can be such enigmas as to where they are at any given moment.

Also on March 11, we began monitoring for American woodcock breeding displays on the property. These displays are done by males in order to attract a mate, and are a fascinating and beautiful rite of spring. The males fly high in the sky, their wings making all sorts of interesting noises, and then they dive-bomb back down to earth with the hope that the female likes what she sees. I am happy to report that we have a strong population of American woodcock at Crow’s Nest. We had detections of these breeding displays in various suitable parts of the property, and we will continue to monitor where they are setting up territories into spring.

It is always exhilarating to see the early migrants start to appear on the property. On March 15, we detected our first eastern phoebes of the year on the Hopewell Trail off of Bethesda Road. Two birds were seen foraging together and quietly calling. The next day, we found another eastern phoebe in shrubs near French Creek. Another exciting observation was two eastern meadowlark that were seen foraging in a grassy field. We had not detected meadowlarks on the property since the fall of 2008, so it was wonderful to see them again. We do not have any evidence of meadowlarks breeding at Crow’s Nest, so most likely they were just passing through on their way to their chosen breeding grounds. But that is what makes Crow’s Nest such a viable spot for birds. Whether the birds are breeding here, or are year round locals, or just passing through for a quick meal, Crow’s Nest offers abundant and diverse habitat to cater to the various needs of the avian community.

Our surveys will continue through the spring and will culminate in a bird checklist for the preserve in July of 2013. This checklist will serve as a guide for what birds have been seen on the property, and when. Be on the lookout for that! But in the meantime, enjoy everything that Crow’s Nest has to offer, and expect to see interesting things whenever you get a chance to visit!