Thursday, November 03, 2005

Evening Mall Birds

In the late afternoon I took a short walk around the Tidal Basin and adjoining areas of the Mall. There were not too many birds around; it may have been a little too close to sunset for many to be active.

Out on the Tidal Basin itself I saw a trio of American coots settling in for the evening. Oddly enough, this was my first sighting of coots in DC this year. I must have missed them in the winter and spring, though I am sure I visited the usual spots for seeing them. Over by the various bridges crossing the Potomac around 14th Street, there was a young eastern phoebe, still with a lemon yellow breast.

The strangest thing I saw was after sunset, when the evening had grown rather dark and I was on my way home. I headed back by way of the WWII Memorial and the Washington Monument, since I do not usually go that way. As I passed the Washington Monument I noticed a peregrine falcon circling the monument, which was illuminated by multiple spotlights. It circled the monument at least twice, and appeared to be trying to land on its walls. Now the masonry is not entirely smooth on the lower half of the monument, but it certainly does not provide a place for a bird to perch. Perhaps it was confused by the lights and was trying to hunt its own shadow? I do not know why it was doing that. In any case it soon flew off in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure if any other visitors to the monument noticed the falcon.


Double-crested Cormorant
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Mourning Dove
Eastern Phoebe
Carolina Wren
European Starling
House Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow