This was a banner day for woodpeckers! I start off most days by ticking off Downy and Red-bellied as soon as I start walking. Today was no different, as I noted them standing in the parking lot as I checked the start time and temperature. I took the “Red Trail” into the woods that go along the south boarder of the preserve. As soon as I entered the woods I heard the rattling call of a Pileated Woodpecker! In short order I found a male in the top of a yellow poplar tree. I have been surprised at how uncommon this species is in our area (this is only my 4th observation for the preserve). I almost never see them anywhere else in Chester County. When I first decided to make the preserve my regular birding spot I predicted I would see them in the wooded areas along the Brandywine and on the west end of the preserve as the stands of trees there seemed like appropriate habitat. In fact, I did see Pileated there on my first visit in March and again in April and none since.
As I was looking at the Pileated, I thought “well what are the chances I will see the remaining three species of woodpeckers?” These three species being Northern Flicker, Hairy Woodpecker and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. None of these three are a “given” on any given day. I see flickers on about 60% of my visits, Hairy on about 48% of my visits and sapsuckers are down right rare at about 14%. I figured the chances that I would see one of these as pretty good, but all three would be highly unlikely.
I did my usual look around the preserve with out seeing anything other than Downy and Red-bellied. By the time I rounded the curve and had the parking lot in view I had pretty much dismissed the notion that I would get another woodpecker. I paused to spish for a swamp sparrow at their usual spot when I hear a woodpecker tapping in the trees beyond. Shortly there after, I heard the familiar call of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! With the sapsucker still tapping away, I noticed a bird perched in the top of a tree to my right. A quick look confirmed it to be a Northern Flicker!
Alright. Now I’m on a mission to find a Hairy Woodpecker. Fortunately I didn’t have to work at this to hard. As I approached the bridge to the parking lot I heard a Hairy calling from the big box elder that towers over the bridge and river!
Oddly enough, this is the second time that I have had a six woodpecker day at the preserve. The last one was on 6 April 2012, which was the last record that I have for a Pileated and the first that I have for a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Stat time: 8:50
End time: 11:40
Wind: light to gusty from the west
Species Total: 32
- Great Blue Heron – 3
- Black Vulture – approximately 20
- Turkey Vulture – approximately 30
- Canada Goose – approximately 700, all congregated in the Brandywine on the north end of the preserve.
- Mallard – 17
- Northern Harrier – 2, males. To the best of my memory, these were the first harriers that I have observed that were actively hunting in the preserve. All others that I have seen were migrants flying high overhead. They were working the No Hang Glider Hill where the preserve manager says that he sees them most often. This was only my 6th observation in the preserve.
- Red-tailed Hawk – 5, 3 adults and 2 immatures
- Mourning Dove – approximately 25
- Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1, heard only
- Downy Woodpecker – approximately 25!
- Hairy Woodpecker – 1
- Northern Flicker – 1
- Pileated Woodpecker – 1, Bird of the Day!
- Blue Jay – approximately 20
- American Crow – approximately 400. Many birds spread through the preserve today.
- Carolina Chickadee – approximately 40
- Tufted Titmouse – approximately 20
- White-breasted Nuthatch – approximately 10
- Carolina Wren – approximately 10
- Golden-crowned Kinglet – 1
- Eastern Bluebird – approximately 25
- American Robin – 5
- Northern Mockingbird – 3
- European Starling – approximately 40
- Song Sparrow – approximately 150
- Swamp Sparrow – 1
- White-throated Sparrow – approximately 150
- Dark-eyed Junco – approximately 75
- Northern Cardinal – approximately 30
- House Finch – 2
- American Goldfinch – approximately 20