Wednesday, July 20, 2005

National Mall Birds

This evening I took another walk along the southern side of the Mall through the gardens that are interspersed with the museums there. Right now there are five principal gardens along the south side of the Mall: Bartholdi Park (behind the U.S. Botanical Garden conservatory), the garden surrounding the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the sculpture garden in front of the Hirschorn, Ripley Gardens (between the Hirschorn and the Arts and Industries building), and the Enid Haupt Garden (behind the Smithsonian Castle). There are a couple others on the north side and several larger ones west of the Washington Monument, but I have not explored those as thoroughly. With the recent addition of the NMAI garden and the future opening of the new garden between the Botanical Garden conservatory and NMAI, this group of gardens forms a more or less continuous line of greenery with only one or two long interruptions.

Now most times only common birds will be in these gardens, but occasionally something exceptional will show up. Tonight was not one of the exceptions; the house sparrow - starling - rock pigeon triumvirate continues to rule the roost on the east end of the Mall. One unexpected sight was a killdeer standing in a puddle on the lawn of the Capitol. As I looked at it, a second one flew in. I imagine that they must have nested somewhere close by, perhaps on the roof of one of the office buildings. A song sparrow sang in Bartholdi Park. The wetlands portion of the NMAI gardens continues to turn up some good birds. Several red-winged blackbirds called from the trees, while an eastern kingbird flew from its perch on a three-foot-high baldcypress to snag insects close to the water. Though these are all quite common birds for D.C. in the summer, I am quite pleased to see them all downtown in the midst of busy streets and federal buildings.

Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eastern Kingbird
Barn Swallow
Northern Mockingbird
American Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird