The Stroud Preserve, 7 March 2013


Today was just like Tuesday, but without a Peregrine Falcon. I now have empirical evidence as to the difference a single bird can have on the mood of the observer. I hereby conclude that the presence of such a bird has a positive effect.

While I had no surprises on the composition of my daily list, I did have one of the birds give me quite a surprise. As I walked along the trail on the southwest corner of the preserve a Turkey Vulture spring up from the brush about 30 feet in front of me. It perched on a branch that was way to small for it about 6 feet off the ground and directly above a dead raccoon. I see Turkey Vultures nearly every day at the preserve, but rarely do I get to see one where I can see the wrinkles in the skin on their head and, in fact, what a strangely wonderful head they have! When I see the head of a Turkey Vulture this up close and personal I am always astounded at to just how much they really resemble storks. Which, in turn, sends me back 31 years in time. 

Back in 1982, when I was a freshman at Temple University, I quickly found my way to the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club (DVOC). I remember the speaker for one of the first DVOC meetings I attended was Dr. Charles Sibley. In case you are unfamiliar with him, he was an early pioneer of modern phylogenetic taxonomy in birds. In my notes from that talk I wrote “new world vultures are actually short legged, short necked storks!”

Wow. Did that changed my life forever. For me it all seemed to make perfect and sudden sense. I also wrote in my notes “corvids/shrikes/vireos” and “wrentit/new world babbler?” I remember many people at that meeting had a hard time wrapping their heads around such radical clams and more or less laughed them off. In 1990 Sibley and Monroe’s Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World was published, again to many raised eyebrows. Look at taxonomic order in your field guides now. It’s all Sibley.

Start time: 8:45

End time: 11:30

Temp: 34-40°

Wind: slight, from the east to start, from the north at the end

Skies: mostly over cast

Species Total: 32

  • Black Vulture – approximately 15
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 20
  • Canada Goose – approximately 400
  • Mallard – 12
  • Common Merganser – 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 7, 6 adults, 1 immature
  • Mourning Dove – 2
  • Great Horned Owl – 1, same bird, same place
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1, heard only
  • Downy Woodpecker – 2
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 2
  • Northern Flicker – 1
  • Blue Jay – approximately 10
  • American Crow – approximately 75
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 15
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 4
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 8
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 30
  • Northern Mockingbird – 4
  • European Starling – approximately 80
  • Eastern Towhee – 1
  • Chipping Sparrow – 5
  • Savannah Sparrow – 2
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 30
  • Swamp Sparrow – 2
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 20
  • Dark-eyed Junco – approximately 30
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 100
  • Common Grackle – approximately 40