Mariton: Hermit Thrushes are Back

October 22, 2014

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

MEBUS HermitThrushJuvMaritonField1021

Our Tuesday Nature Walk featured birds again this week.  I have been expecting Hermit Thrushes to move into our area for the winter, and we finally found a couple this morning.  We believe the one pictured above is a juvenile Hermit Thrush.  It took a lot of discussion, but fortunately a bird guide on Sharon’s phone helped us make the call (pun intended).

 MEBUS WhiteThroatedSparrowMaritonField1021-2

The White-throated Sparrows have been back for a couple weeks now.  This is one of the species that cheers us on winter mornings with its song.  Our eyes are immediately attracted to the yellow lore spot near the eye and the throat patch, but I try to get people to look at the coloring on the wings and back of sparrows.  The shadings of browns, black and white are intricate and stunning.  Check out the photo below that Carole took in the bird blind last December.

MEBUS WhiteThroatedSparrowMaritonBirdBlind1215

We didn’t see it, but we heard a Common Raven.  In the last few years this species has been expanding its range southward.  There are reports of them nesting in our area.  (Perhaps they will nest at Mariton in the future.)  I am used to seeing and hearing them when I go to Lycoming County.  I always associated this species with mountains and high latitudes, but I suppose their habitat needs are a little more complex than that.

Most of our time was checking out migrating raptors in the sky.  Sharp-shinned Hawks were the most numerous, but we saw a Cooper’s Hawk (and some unidentified accipiters), as well as Red-tails, Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures.