What a difference a few days makes. Today it was 43° Less than a week ago it was 12°. The birdlife was more lively as Carolina Wrens, Blue Jays and the likes were more vocal. Bluebirds were back in force. Actually, I don’t think that they ever left. I imagine if I were to check the Bluebird Boxes or other cavities around the preserve during the cold snap I imagine I would have found masses of them huddled up in a blue bunch of fluffy feathers. I do remember seeing a female Bluebird going in and out of a natural cavity in a tree a few weeks ago and wondered it that was an overnight roost for them.
I had a number of highlights on my walk today (in bold on the species list), but for me the best was having a Fish Crow and American Crow sitting near each other in profile where I could (finally) get a good look at the two. I have heard many Fish Crow calls from the preserve but being away from the area for nearly 20 years and knowing how variable crow calls can be I’ve been wondering if I am getting these calls correct. Also, I never hear of any other birders from the area mention that they see Fish Crows.
I heard what I would call a classic Fish Crow call from a small mass of crows in a tree near the Brandywine. I carefully watched until I found the crow that was making the Fish Crow call. I found it sitting just underneath a calling American Crow. The size difference was easy with the Fish Crow noticeably smaller and slimmer than the American Crow.
I’ve always been fond of Fish Crows as it was one of the few nesting birds in my old neighborhood at 5th and Cecil B. Moore in North Philly. We were some distance away form the Delaware River but they certainly liked the urban wasteland there. The only other native nesting bird that I can recall from there was American Kestrel. The photo on the left is a rotten shot using my iPhone. Both crows were in profile and facing the same direction. You can (maybe) make out that the bottom one is smaller. If not, you will have to take my word for it! I think the first thing I will do when I get gainful employment again is get a decent camera for things like this. Nonetheless, it will have to do for now.
Start time: 9:00
End time: 11:45
Skies: Overcast, light fog
Species Total: 39
- Great Blue Heron – 3
- Black Vulture – 2
- Turkey Vulture – approximately 10
- Canada Goose – approximately 1000. About 750 were in the fields on the northwest side of the preserve.
- American Black Duck – 2, in the old farm pond.
- Mallard – 75, in the old farm pond.
- Bald Eagle – 1 adult
- Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1 adult
- Red-tailed Hawk – 3, 2 adults and 1 immature.
- Wilson's Snipe – 2 just past the bridge over the Brandywine.
- Ring-billed Gull – 6, low enough to provide a certain ID!
- Mourning Dove – 5
- Great Horned Owl – 1, female on the nest.
- Red-bellied Woodpecker – 3
- Downy Woodpecker – 2
- Hairy Woodpecker – 1
- Northern Flicker – 1
- Blue Jay – approximately 20
- American Crow – approximately 250
- Fish Crow – 3, Bird of the Day!
- Carolina Chickadee – 2, low number
- Tufted Titmouse – 2, low number
- White-breasted Nuthatch – 3
- Carolina Wren – approximately 12
- Winter Wren – 1
- Eastern Bluebird – approximately 25
- American Robin – 7
- Northern Mockingbird – 3
- European Starling – approximately 100
- American Tree Sparrow – 1
- Song Sparrow – approximately 20
- Swamp Sparrow – 4
- White-throated Sparrow – approximately 20
- Dark-eyed Junco – 1
- Northern Cardinal – 6
- Red-winged Blackbird – 1
- Common Grackle – 1
- House Finch – 2
- American Goldfinch – approximately 12