Mariton: Unexpected Sights

October 30, 2013

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus

I never know what will make an appearance on our Nature Walks, but I usually have a few hunches.  On Tuesday, we had two birds that I see occasionally, but that I would hardly expect to show up during a walk.

 MEBUS HermitThrushWoodsEdgeMariton1029

This week, we saw plenty of Hermit Thrushes.  This is a winter bird at Mariton.  The Hermit Thrush (fitting its name) is generally reclusive, skulking in the underbrush where it looks for food.  So, it was a surprise to have so many of them give us a good look.  It took awhile, but Carole got these photos.  What you can’t see in her photos was the tangle of underbrush that this individual was using to hide.

MEBUS HermitThrushWoodsEdgeMariton1029-2

The Hermit Thrush has a beautiful song, but we don’t hear it at Mariton because it breeds just to the north.  You can hear its song by clicking here.  It is well worth a trip to the Poconos in the spring just to hear this bird singing.

 MEBUS HairyWoodpeckerWoodsMariton1029

We also saw a couple Hairy Woodpeckers.  It is true that Hairy Woodpeckers are not as common as the Downy Woodpeckers at Mariton, but they are here year round.  Like the Hermit Thrush they are a little shy of people.  So, while I see them, even at my feeders occasionally, I don’t consider it likely to find them on a bird walk.  On Tuesday, there were two females that were exploring dead snags near the top of the Spruce Trail.  They hung out there for some time and we all got to see them well.  You will notice the Hairy Woodpecker’s long beak.  The beak is the best way to distinguish it from the Downy, which otherwise looks like a smaller version.

So, push away from the keyboard to get out and discover something unexpected.