Sunday, January 07, 2007

First Birding for 2007

I spent the afternoon birding in the National Arboretum. Because the year began in the middle of the week, this was my first real bird walk of the new year. I could not believe how many trees were already in full bloom. See, for example, the tree above, or the cherry tree below. I photographed these same trees blooming last year in early or mid March!

Despite some searching, I could not locate the pine warbler that spent much of December in the state tree grove. (Maybe it started migrating north.) The grove did sport two yellow-bellied sapsuckers, involved in a territorial dispute. Nearby meadows were full of birds, including the usual local sparrows - song, white-throated, and junco, as well as other common birds.

The river trail had a surprise sharp-shinned hawk. I also found several eastern phoebes and eastern bluebirds in the area of the gate from the Asian Gardens to the river trail. One phoebe was singing an odd song. It had the husky quality of a phoebe song, but with the pitch and rhythm of a wood-pewee song. So the result was something like "fee-a-bee, fee-bee." There were quite a lot of phoebes for early January. I think I saw at least four.

Before I left, I checked around the fruit tree area for finches. There were not many, but I did spot a few house finches. This tends to be a good spot for purple finches as well, but none were apparent this afternoon. Then again, a large flock of robins, such as were present today, makes it difficult to look for other species. The last species for the day was a pileated woodpecker, which I heard and then saw disappear into a hole. It's never too early to start a nest cavity, I guess.

Elsewhere in the park, two great horned owls were roosting together and were slightly different sizes, so I assume that they are a pair. As I stood and watched them for a few minutes, I was struck by how closely their wing feather pattern resembles tree bark. No wonder it is usually so difficult to find them!


Canada Goose
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
European Starling
House Finch
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal