Crow’s Nest: Spring Birding Report

July 17, 2013

Scott Stollery and Nikki Flood sent in the following commentary on their birding at Crow’s Nest Preserve over the last few months. Scott and Nikki have been volunteering their time to conduct bird surveys so that we can compile a seasonal checklist to the birds—a brochure that we will make available to visitors. You can also see the data they have submitted to eBird.org. Click on “Explore Data” then “Bar Charts,” pick “Pennsylvania” and “hotspots” and then scroll down to find “Crow’s Nest Preserve.” Scott and Nikki write:

We just finished analyzing the spring data for our avian surveys at Crow’s Nest, dating back to 2009. These surveys were a mixture of point counts and absence/presence surveys on the preserve. We were surprised and happy to find that, all told, we have detected 110 bird species during the spring months over the years. This total surpassed our expectations and is a testament to the importance of land set aside for wildlife.

This spring was eventful and challenging as ever. It began with a bang as we had two osprey detections early on, marking the first time we had ever seen ospreys over the preserve. As migration intensified, we added some other first-timers to our spring list, including broad-winged hawk, blackpoll warbler, Canada warbler, and alder flycatcher.

Once the breeding season was in full swing, Crow’s Nest proved, once again, to be a hot-spot of fecundity. The sheer number of gray catbirds, common yellowthroats, indigo buntings and song sparrows along the Creek Trail was amazing to behold. Inside the more densly forested portions of Crow’s Nest, wood thrush, veery, eastern wood pewee and scarlet tanager were invariably found. And if one were to hike along Mine Run, the strong voice of the Louisiana waterthrush could be heard above the din of the creek.

Our favorite breeding bird of 2013 has to be the yellow-billed cuckoo. We had only one detection prior to this spring, which is not enough to say it is breeding at a location (unless, of course, that one detection is a bird on a nest or in the process of building a nest), but this year we saw two yellow-billed cuckoos very close together and detected their call numerous times over the course of the spring. Cuckoos are a beautiful and secretive bird, and population estimates in Pennsylvania are around 120,000 birds (see the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Pennsylvania). They prefer open woodland, which Crow’s Nest has in its favor, so it is fairly surprising that we have had so few detections until this year. Hopefully, they are successful and return in the future because they are a wonderful species to have around.

You might ask, what was the most detected bird species during the spring months at Crow’s Nest? True to form it was the American crow coming in at a hefty 98% of the time! Coming in second was the red-bellied woodpecker.

As mentioned previously, the overall Crow’s Nest bird species list will be released sometime this summer, so please stay tuned!

Posted by Daniel Barringer on July 17, 2013.