Mariton: Nesting Bird Census

June 4, 2011

(Ovenbird with a caterpillar.)

Today was the THIRTIETH (30th !!!) Annual Nesting Bird Census at Mariton! Using our ears and eyes we tally all the birds that we hear singing, or see.  We assume that by this time of the year, most birds have established nesting territories.  The tally from our 4.5 hour/2 mile route was 45 species and 256 individual birds.  That is an average result for the Nesting Census.

We realize that we miss birds, but it gives us a snapshot rather than a time-elapsed movie of birds summering at Mariton.  Both methods have their pros and cons.  An advantage of the one-time census is that it is easier to assemble volunteer birders to count.  A disadvantage is that some birds may be already raising young, and too busy to sing.

We did come across two pairs of Ovenbirds that we could hear advertising their territories in the distance.  When we reached those areas, they suddenly began scolding and trying to lead us away.  It was a sure sign that we were close to a nest.  In fact, we saw one fledgling Ovenbird flapping in the undergrowth below the scolding adults.  Ovenbirds were the most numerous species, and we counted 21 individuals.  This is one of the agitated Ovenbirds.  Its head feathers are ruffled.

Another highlight was a male Scarlet Tanager along the River Lookout Trail.  This bird was near the tree tops, but because of the steep drop-off, he was at our eye level.  (No Warbler Neck!)  This fellow was very cooperative declaring his territory from bare branches where we could get a good look.

We also watched a pair of Orioles.  Realizing that the nest was probably nearby, Dan scanned the branch tips until he spotted the nest right above us.  Here is a photo of the Oriole nest.  (All photos by Carole Mebus.)

My favorite was probably a Veery singing at the beginning of the River Lookout Trail that had a beautiful voice .  We heard seven Veerys this morning, but this bird’s voice was enchanting.

Of course, much thanks goes to the seven volunteers who got up early on a Saturday morning to lend their talents and count the birds.  Thanks Jim, Doug, Virginia, Anne, Carole, Sharon and Dan.