Thursday, November 27, 2008

Birding Notes

While I have been neglectful of this blog over the past two weeks, I have been seeing some good birds.

Last week was phenomenal for red-tailed hawk migration. At a single banding station we banded 102 for the week, including 36 on one day (tying a single day record for the project), and 27 and 24 on two other days. It appears that a lot of buteos were lingering north of here, until a series of strong cold fronts (and possibly some snow) pushed them south. The last two weeks have also brought three red-shouldered hawks, a peregrine falcon, and a merlin – all rather late migrants – to our station. The hawk watch had similarly impressive red-tail numbers last week.

At the same time that red-tailed hawks were barreling through, fox sparrows started to arrive in large numbers. I have been hearing their songs all over the island this week. At first the song confused me because it starts off like a cardinal's but does not end like one, and at times sounds almost like an oriole. Eventually I figured out what it was. Speaking of orioles, there are still some around here, including one that I saw outside of where I am staying.

Owls are also migrating through. Yesterday I followed a report to find a long-eared owl. It was mostly obscured by branches, but still identifiable. A northern saw whet owl was reported from the same location, but I did not find that species. Had I stayed and checked each tree thoroughly, I might have located the tiny bird, but I did not want to create too much disturbance in that grove.

This afternoon at the Beanery, I encountered a Cooper's hawk, a sharpie, a red-tail, a kestrel, and a merlin. That's not bad for a walk of only about an hour. Plus there were several sparrow species – all of which gave great looks in the low-angle sunlight – and a few meadowlarks.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be back to regular posting fairly soon.