Sunday, October 22, 2006

Turning Towards Winter

As I walked through my usual route at the National Arboretum this morning, I had the sense that winter patterns are settling in. It has become noticeably colder in the last two weeks, and some trees are starting to turn. It is not peak yet by any means, but at least a few species are bright colors. While some neotropical migrants are still moving through, winter birds are taking over in greater numbers.

The biggest surprise was a scarlet tanager near the entrance to the Azalea Garden. It was moving through the upper portions of a tree underneath which white-throated sparrows were moving rapidly and calling. Today was the first time I have heard short snatches of the distinctive white-throated song this fall. Close by that group I saw a hermit thrush, also a first for the fall. Later on, I saw several more hermit thrushes. (I did not observe the foot-quiver behavior, though.)

Compared to the activity at the entrance to the garden, the rest of the hill was fairly quiet. I spotted a few ruby-crowned kinglets. Many more white-throated sparrows were busy in the underbrush, along with a song sparrow and numerous eastern towhees. Several small flocks of tufted titmice were chattering from the treetops all around the hill. Up at the top of the hill, I glimpsed what I thought was a falcon of some sort, but I could not get a good angle on it.

I combed through the meadows around the columns in the hope of finding a meadowlark, but to no avail. There were more sparrows of various species and many blue jays. One eastern phoebe perched on top of a withered stalk and flicked its tail while glancing around. It looked almost as aggressive as a kingbird in that posture. From the bus stop, I spotted one sharp-shinned hawk to complete the day.


Canada Goose
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
American Goldfinch
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal