Friday, May 05, 2006

Sedge Wren Without the Sedge

Rock Creek Park was alive with birdsong when I arrived this morning. I had not originally intended to visit this morning, but when I saw the major migration that occurred last night, I decided to take my chances there. As I walked over towards the horse center, I met two birders who alerted me to the presence of a sedge wren in the maintenance yard.

When I got to the yard, I located the group of birders who were looking at the sedge wren. It flew up and perched on a small branch just above the grassy area. The wren bounced up and down in a typical wren-like fashion, as if it were wondering why several pairs of binoculars were focused on it. Sedge wren is a grassland species that breeds in the Midwest and central Canada; very few breed in Maryland or Virginia, and none in DC. It can be distinguished from house wrens by its overall buffy coloration and from Carolina wrens by the very noticeable barring on its wings and lack of strong rufous coloration (except on the rump). This morning's sedge wren was a life bird for me.

Warbler numbers overall seemed to be a little down from yesterday, though I saw and heard more species than I had yesterday. The maintenance yard had a lot of the same birds from yesterday: black-throated green, black-and-white, northern parula, nashville, chestnut-sided, and yellow warblers. Some black-throated blues were singing on the bridle trail outside the yard. The trail behind the nature center turned up a hooded warbler, singing from high in a tree, as well as a few blackpoll warblers, also heard rather than seen. The last warbler I saw was a Canada warbler, which was singing quite close to the nature center. This beautiful bird was sitting cooperatively in a tangle of vines where I could get a good, long look at it.

A surprise in the maintenance yard was a solitary solitary sandpiper walking in the pond. I believe this was the first shorebird species I have seen up there. The yard also turned up a Lincoln's sparrow in the back, at the treeline beyond the grassy area. Unfortunately it was not very productive. My last bird for the day was a Baltimore oriole, which flew across Military Road as I waited for the bus.

It was a very good morning of birding. I have a feeling that the woods would have been a bit more active early on if the sky had been clear instead of overcast. When the sun came out briefly before I left, there did seem to be an increase in activity around the nature center. But I cannot really complain after such a wonderful morning.


Great Blue Heron
Solitary Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Tree Swallow
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Eastern Bluebird
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
American Goldfinch
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Canada Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole