The Stroud Preserve, 14 March 2013


Dag-gone-it…if you thought winter was done with us, you should have been out this morning! Cold and windy. This dip back to wintertime was reflected in the birdlife. Yesterday, birds were flying left and right. Today the skies were nearly empty of birds with the exception of vultures. Also, to make the cold fell a little colder, today was the first day since January 25th that I have not recorded Great Horned Owl on my daily walks.

The bird of the day was a Red-shouldered Hawk. This is the first time that I’ve ever seen one here two days in a row. Actually, they are uncommon here. Over the last year this would only be the 6th time I’ve seen one here. The reason this is the bird of the day is as I was watching it glide from one side of the preserve to the other I watched it land in the paulownia grove behind the old farm houses, thus making it the first Red-shouldered Hawk that I’ve actually seen attached to terra firma! All of the other five observations have been flyovers.

I’ve also determined that the second week of March is Rusty Blackbird season at the preserve. On Monday I saw one, then yesterday I saw eight, and today I saw two. It’s a real shame that I would be this excited over seeing a grand total of 11 Rusty Blackbirds, because in South Carolina in the 1970’s they were very common birds. But in the 35 years since, they have experienced one of the most dramatic declines in total population of just about any North American passerine. The reasons for their this decline is a mystery.

They have always been one of my favorite birds. I think it is because I really like their fresh fall plumage with those piercing white eyes. The last time I saw this many Rusty Blackbirds was in 1996 when I visited their nesting grounds in British Columbia and Alaska. I remember in particular a campground in Prince George, British Columbia, where there was one that would perch on top of my tent when I was more than five feet way from it. In contrast, to the south in Washington State, they are considered a vagrant with only one or two reports a year. I can only recall seeing 3 in nearly 20 years of living there.

Start time: 8:50

End time: 11:00

Temp: 30-34°

Wind: 18 mph from the northwest

Skies: mostly cloudy

Species Total: 36

  • Black Vulture – approximately 14
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 35
  • Canada Goose – approximately 200
  • Wood Duck – 8
  • Mallard – 6
  • Bald Eagle – 1
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2, adults,
  • Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 2 adults
  • Mourning Dove – approximately10
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 3
  • Downy Woodpecker – 1
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 1
  • Northern Flicker – 1
  • Blue Jay – approximately 10
  • American Crow – approximately 50
  • Fish Crow – 3
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 25
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – 5
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 3
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 10
  • Winter Wren – 1
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 20
  • American Robin – approximately 100
  • Northern Mockingbird – 3
  • European Starling – approximately 100
  • Eastern Towhee – 1, heard only
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 40
  • Swamp Sparrow – 3
  • White-throated Sparrow – 1! Boy are these clearing out fast! 
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 100
  • Rusty Blackbird – 2
  • Common Grackle – approximately 20
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – 8