Mariton: Tuesday Bird Walks Start

April 27, 2016

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

There are several “events” that usher in Spring for me. Two of them are mowing the meadows in March, and the return of the Eastern Phoebe.  But the real clincher for me is beginning the Tuesday Bird Walks (which usually coincides with the return of the Wood Thrush and warblers ).  The Wood Thrush weren’t in full song yet, but we heard enough to know they are back.  Some also saw a Hermit Thrush.

This week’s walk was really great and we had about 36 species. We started off with a male American Redstart in a blooming redbud tree.  That’s a pretty good way to start a bird walk.

MEBUS YellowRumpedWarblerMariton0426-3

Warblers are both fun and frustrating because of their small size and constant movement.  Carole sent the above photo of a Yellow-rumped Warbler grabbing an insect from a tiny oak blossom.  The photo wonderfully conveys the incessant movement.  The oak flower is moving in the breeze.  The teeny insect is moving on the flower.  And the warbler has to capture enough food to fuel its own constant movement.   There were lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers during the morning, and fortunately they usually travel in groups.  It can be tough to get 10 people to see a warbler that is constantly moving, but if you can get people looking in the general area a Yellow-rump might pop into their view field.  We worked very hard for some of them (frustrating), and then had few pose right in front of us (fun).

One of the amazing sightings Tuesday was a Pileated Woodpecker that glided through the forest and landed on a dead tree. From there, someone saw it go into a hole.  Once we got everyone focused on the right hole (the tree had several woodpecker holes), people could see it inside the cavity.  I assume it is a nest cavity, but it may be difficult to see as the leaves come out.

Things really started happening when we got to the meadows. A Palm Warbler played in front of us for a long time, so we all got a good view of this warbler before it heads north.  We had Yellow-rumps, a Black-throated Green Warbler and Black and White Warblers perch in the open for easy viewing.

A Blue-headed Vireo (formerly called Solitary Vireo) perched at the edge of a Sassafras tree and gave everyone a good look.  The wildflowers are also blooming and we found time to “botanize” during the bird walk.  Spring has truly begun, and we will be doing it again next Tuesday.