Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sparrows and Hawks at the Arboretum

This morning I visited the National Arboretum to see some birds and enjoy the foliage. Several bird species are moving through in large numbers. Ruby-crowned kinglets were all over the Arboretum, in every bush and tree. Hermit thrushes were also plentiful. Several made me think they were other thrush species, but all turned out to be hermit thrushes in the end. Dark-eyed juncos are also back in large numbers; today I saw my first of the fall.

I was surprised to see a blue-headed vireo lingering in the Azalea Garden; I thought I had missed this species for the fall. I was also surprised to see two fox sparrows. (Usually I do not see fox sparrows until later in the fall.) These two birds let me watch for a long time as they thrashed about in the open. Like white-throated sparrows, fox sparrows noisily kick leaves behind them as they forage.

The meadows around the columns were very productive this morning. As I walked through them, a merlin whizzed overhead. It was followed by a sharp-shinned hawk, which turned several circles over the field before moving on. The Arboretum is replanting grass in a large section next to the columns. The bare ground here was being worked by palm warblers and eastern phoebes. Together the two species made for a flurry of tail-pumping.

Just before I left, I saw a very large flock of chipping sparrows just inside the treeline in the patch of woods near the bonsai display. There were about 50-60 of them in total - one of the larger chipping sparrow flocks that I have seen at the Arboretum. They forage in the grass and then duck back into the woods for cover.

Today was another beautiful day to be out, thanks to a string of good weather. Last week I thought that fall migration was winding down, but it looks like it still has some surprises left.


Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
Blue-headed Vireo
Palm Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Common Grackle