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Mariton: Annual Nesting Census

June 5, 2016

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

Cardinal Nest

Cardinal Nest

On Saturday, Mariton held its Annual Nesting Bird Census. This count was started here in 1981, making this the 36th year of collecting information.  While it isn’t inclusive of all the birds nesting at Mariton, it does give us a good overview of the birds calling Mariton home during the nesting season.  There are variables in a count like this, yet when you look at the data over the years the numbers don’t vary a lot.

This year we counted 47 species in 4 ½ hours. We counted 246 individual birds.  Most of the birds we count by hearing them singing.  Since males are the ones doing the singing, we obviously miss many of the females and the young.

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

The most abundant species were Wood Thrushes and Blue Jays. Red-eyed Vireos and Ovenbirds came in next.  Indicators of the Hurricane Sandy’s effect on the forest are an increase in species that like early stages of forest regeneration.  Species like Blue-winged Warblers, Indigo Buntings and Eastern Towhees have increased in those sections where the forest was opened by the Sandy.

Three species that made my day are not rare or uncommon. At one location we were surrounded by 4 different Veerys singing their magical flutelike songs.  We heard and saw Black and white Warblers all along the route and ended up counting 9 of them.  Finally, we saw two different pairs of Hairy Woodpeckers that had broods.  We heard the babies of one pair calling before one of the adults came in disappeared into a cavity to feed them.  It was a wonderful day to be out birding with friends.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, with what we think is a cocoon.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, with what we think is a cocoon.

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