Sunday, March 29, 2015

This week in urban birds

Was a slow week for urban birds in Wilkes-Barre as migration is just getting started.

Large flocks of blackbirds moving around and the Common Grackles are settling in. Love these guys although they are not popular. I think they're hugely important ecologically as any abundant organisms probably is. Males great each other by sticking their bills directly up. I'm guess there's a strong UV signal on the chin we don't see but males are probably measuring each other up this way. A single Brown-headed Cowbird was at the feeder. Despite their high numbers on the levee, I don't see many of them in the yard and we're only four blocks away. There were two Song Sparrows at the feeder but they're not even responding to playback but still not taking any crap from the House Sparrows, which are showing some rudimentary nesting behavior. They're picking up dried leaves and grasses and carrying them around without going anywhere - I suspect they're wondering why they're doing this, like when I go out the kitchen for no reason. Picked up Pine Siskens early in the week along the railroad tracks. A ride around Wilkes-Barre and Kingston led to a Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Three Tree Swallows passed by on Wednesday evening. Normally, the first few pass far overhead but their was a rough northerly breeze coming through too. Robins are singing and males are cranky (but not territorial.. so weird). Other birds still hanging out are the Dark-eyed Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, White-throated Sparrows, and a Carolina Wren. Best bird this week was this afternoon's Common Raven that landed in a neighbor's tree. They're usually far overhead or on the river so this was cool. Was sitting outside enjoying a cigar when their distinctive croaking awakened me out a wonderful daydream of trees with leaves and green grass. 

Notable absences include the kinglets and Brown Creepers, which are usually passing through here in good numbers. Hoping to get a White-crowned Sparrow this year too. 

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