Saturday, October 07, 2006

Birding in the Rain

During the long, hot D.C. summers, I tend to forget just how cold 50 degrees feels when it is windy and overcast. Then one day in October I get a reminder. Today was one of those days. This week the temperature fell about thirty degrees in two days, from a high in the mid 80s on Wednesday to a daytime high in the low 50s yesterday. This morning felt even colder when I went over to the National Arboretum.

Birds are starting to switch from late summer species to mid-fall species at the National Arboretum. Today I had several first-of-the-fall species, including brown creeper, yellow-bellied sapsucker, and both kinglets. The white pines near the visitor center held a large flock of chattering golden-crowned kinglets. As usual with kinglets it was difficult to pin down the species, not because the two kinglet species have confusing field marks, but because the birds will not sit still. The one ruby-crowned kinglet I saw was on the far side of the Azalea Garden.

A few warblers are still moving through. I saw at least three black-throated blue warblers (two males and a female) and a few ovenbirds. Black-throated blue warblers tend to linger around D.C. in the fall. Last year, I saw them at the Arboretum well into November, after most other species in their family were long gone. I am glad they do stick around because I never get tired of watching this species. Unlike some other warblers, black-throated blues keep their colorful summer plumage in the fall. They are also an exception in not inducing "warbler neck," as they move around in middle-level foliage.

Unfortunately my time for watching warblers was cut off by the arrival of heavy rains. The initial downpour quickly lightened into a drizzle, but even that was enough to shut down most bird activity. So I wrapped up my birdwatching and left the Arboretum.

By the way, BirdLife International has declared this weekend as its annual World Bird Festival. It encourages birders to go out and visit Important Bird Areas over the next two days.


Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Tufted Titmouse
Brown Creeper
Blue Jay
European Starling
House Sparrow
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Eastern Towhee
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal