I am not a fan of sports and don’t have cable, so unlike the rest of the US, I am not watching the Super Bowl. However, I am considering today a “super” Sunday because I was able to bird watch at 2 separate locations, which doesn’t get to happen on most days.
My fiance Dave and I started our day at Haddon Lake Park. It was a busy afternoon with: ring-billed gulls, a Red-tailed Hawk, Mallards, Canada geese, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Mourning Doves, White-breasted Nuthatches, a Northern Mockingbird, Song and White-Throated Sparrows, American Robins, and very noisy Blue Jays (no surprise there hah).
Many Mallards and Canada geese live at the lake all year round. My favorite part about watching them in the winter is seeing them perform their courtship displays. There were a few pairs of Mallards head-pumping together as they swam by. One drake (male) Mallard displayed nod-swimming behavior. Nod-swimming is when the duck swims with its neck low and skimming the water. They will rapidly move a short distance, and drakes display this behavior after mating. Females will nod-swim when showing a drake she’s interested.
There’s a female Mallard who is very light brown and may be a hybrid. Different species of ducks mating is actually pretty frequent, so hybrids can be hiding within any flock of ducks. We’ve seen this lovely lady a few times, and even she was getting in on the courtship action later in our visit.
Another highlight of this walk was the American Coot! American Coots may look like ducks, but they are actually closer related to Rails and Cranes. They are black with white bills and red eyes. They are small and chicken-like birds (around 15″), but they are hiding a big secret!
You might expect the Coot to have webbed feet like a duck, but they have big feet with long toes. Their feet are rarely seen unless they are flying, so it’s always a shock to people when I show them pictures of what their feet actually look like. American Coots can be in rafts (groups) of up to several thousand individuals, but Dave and I only ever see one at a time. The little guy we saw at our park was happily swimming around bobbing his head and diving for aquatic plants to eat.
Later in the afternoon we went to Maria Barnaby Greenwald Memorial Park. We saw some White-throated Sparrows, a male Northern Cardinal, a Red-tailed Hawk, American Robins, a Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, Canada Geese, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and a Great Blue Heron. We also spotted an old nest in a bush. I wonder who used to live there.
Overall we saw a decent number of species, which to me is more exciting than a football game any day. In the game of Super-Bird watching we all win 🙂