Saturday, February 23, 2008

Local Birding

This afternoon I walked my usual route in the park a few blocks from home. While the route was usual, the birds were not. Earlier in the day, my sister had spotted five American Pipits. When I visited the pipits were still feeding where yesterday's sledders had exposed grass under the snow. Joining them in the bare patches were American Robins and Dark-eyed Juncos.

Along the river I spotted three Hooded Mergansers. It was the first time I have seen them in this town and only the second time in this county. There was also a juvenile Bald Eagle being chased by one of the local Red-tailed Hawks. The two-raptor chase scared up hundreds of gulls from the river and playing fields. As with the hoodies, it was the first time I have seen this species in Highland Park. The regular Great Cormorants and Common Mergansers were also present.

Before leaving the park, I heard a commotion of birds. As I looked up to find the source, a Peregrine Falcon rocketed out from behind the treeline with a Rock Pigeon firmly grasped in its talons. Close behind were two American Crows, which took turns diving at the falcon from behind. One of the birds was screaming; I assume it was the Peregrine, but the sound was lower pitched than I expect for that species.

When I got back home, there was another predation scene underway. A Sharp-shinned Hawk had something very tiny in its talons. The prey did not look all that much like a bird, but it is possible that it was already de-feathered by the time I saw it.

I have updated the 2008 year list and BIGBY list to reflect sightings from February.