Sunday, April 02, 2006

Trilling Birds

For yesterday's walk I chose the National Arboretum. On a day when lots of people were sure to be out, it allows plenty of room for people to spread out and not crowd each other. I did not see any new birds for the year. The same species that persisted through most of March were there yesterday, with a mix of lingering winter birds and a arriving spring birds. Flocks of white-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos seem to be considerably smaller now than a few weeks back. The largest single flock I saw yesterday was probably the sixty or so cedar waxwings all calling from a tree in the Asian garden.

I had a lesson in one of the more difficult song groups yesterday afternoon. Trills (in birdsong) consist of a single pitch repeated rapidly. Chipping sparrows have a fast dry trill. I heard one of these singing in the field across from the azalea gardens. Pine warblers have a softer slower trill, one with a clearer tone. I heard this song in the state tree grove, and had a chance to watch the warbler lean its head back to sing. A third species known for its trilling song, the dark-eyed junco, was present, but I did not hear it singing.

Butterflies abounded in the sunnier areas. I saw my first-of-the-year spring azures, as well as my first variegated fritillary. I made several attempts to photograph the latter. After several fruitless attempts, I finally caught it in the photograph at the bottom of the page. I hope to take better butterfly pictures than this as the year progresses.

Finally, yesterday was a very changeable day. One moment it would be sunny, and another the sky would cloud over as if it were about to rain. Fortunately it did not rain while I was out walking. I tried to capture this feeling with the (heavily edited) photograph below.


Double-crested Cormorant
Canada Goose
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Cedar Waxwing
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
Brown Thrasher
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Carolina Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
European Starling
Pine Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Common Grackle


Cabbage White
Clouded Sulphur
Spring Azure
Variegated Fritillary