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Mariton: Tuesday Birding

May 14, 2014

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manger

BOENZLI TOWPATH photo (4)

That’s not what I’m looking at. by Erich Boenzli

The Bird Club went to Wy-Hit-Tuk on Tuesday and walked down the Towpath.  We left cars at both ends of the route and shuttled people.  This allowed us to bird more territory without back tracking.  It seemed to start slowly with mostly Rough-winged Swallows, Phoebes, Yellow Warblers and Warbling Vireos.  As we walked along, I suddenly realized how many bird species we were seeing.  Erich kept track and counted 57 species.

ENORMAN Black-billed cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo by Ed Norman

My Price of Admission bird was probably this Black-billed Cuckoo.  We often hear them, but don’t always get good looks at them.  Ed saw a bird land in a tree and correctly identified it as a cuckoo.  It moved around behind branches and leaves, so it was awhile before we could see enough of the bird to positively identify it as the Black-billed.  It never sang.

MEBUS SwainsonsThrushPossibleWyHitTuk0512 (2)

Swainson’s Thrush by Carole Mebus

Another candidate would be the Swainson’s Thrushes (yes, that’s plural).  This species doesn’t breed in our area, so we have to head north to hear its wondrous song.  They migrate through quietly and can be easily missed.  It can be a tough bird to identify, especially if hidden by foliage.  A little patience paid off for us.

Third candidate for the Price of Admission goes to Virginia.  She located this hummingbird nest without seeing the female fly to it.

MEBUS HummingbirdNestOverCanalWyHitTukSouth0513 (2)

Hummingbird Nest by Carole Mebus

It is a lot easier to find when you watch the bird fly to it.

ENORMAN hummingbird on nest

Hummingbird on Nest by Ed Norman

MEBUS GreenHeronInTreeOverTowpathWyHitTukToBrownsTerr0513 (2)

Green Heron by Carole Mebus

When we first saw the Green Heron pictured above,  it was perched with its bill pointed straight up.  This is the pose that American Bitterns use to blend in with cattails and reeds.  It doesn’t work quite as well for a green heron in a tree, but it was still stunning.

We found several nests this morning.  Viana opined that because leaf-out is a little later this year we are seeing the nests and even more warblers than usual.  She might be onto something.  We saw Baltimore Orioles building nests.  We watched female Red-winged Blackbird nest building.  We found a Yellow Warbler’s nest.  We even saw a Warbling Vireo building a nest.

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