Hi everyone! The last few days have been busy, so I have a lot to catch everyone up on.
Thursday evening Dave and I went to Boundary Creek. There was a lot of action. Some of my favorite moments include:
- Seeing a flock of about 50 crows fly overhead
- A Northern Mockingbird singing from the top of a tree. Some sounds it imitated that we recognized included Northern Cardinal, some of sort of sea gull, Blue Jay, American Robin, and even some non-bird sounds, such as a car alarm
- 4 Common Mergansers (2 males and 2 females) in the creek. This is the first time we’ve seen this species at this location
- A new life bird: Fox Sparrow!
The Fox Sparrow was hanging out with some Song Sparrows. He was pretty obvious, because he was bigger than the Song Sparrows and had rusty reddish-brown/gray/white feathers. Fox Sparrow’s plumage can be categorized into 4 “regional differences”: Sooty, Red, Slate-colored, and Thick-billed. The “Red” variation is here on the East Coast and the other 3 variations live on the West Coast. They can be found in the middle of the country during migration. It was too dark at that point to take a picture, but here is what it looked like:
Today I went with my family to Haddon Lake Park. As usual there were many Mallards and Canada Geese swimming around the lake. There is a very light female Mallard who we always recognize hanging out with her mate and we were able to get close to her and watch her dabble.
We are thinking that she is a hybrid between a Mallard and a domestic white duck. This wouldn’t be an unusual possibility. Ducks can and sometimes breed with other duck species, creating really interesting hybrids. This female has the shape of a Mallard, has the right bill color, and was around the size of the male she was with. However, her bill was larger and flatter than the male’s and she has distinctive white feathers on her wings and back. She was also not as mottled or dark brown as a true female Mallard would be and she has a white streak over her eye. She is very beautiful.
Swimming up behind her was another Mallard pair with a very light female.
And later we found some more Mallard pairs hanging out on the grass.
Towards the end of the walk we found a lone Canada Goose egg in an unlined nest bowl. It seemed to have been abandoned, but we are not completely sure.
Another highlight from today’s walk was the turtles. It has been in the 60s and 70s the past week, so all the turtles have come out from their torpor. Torpor is a physical state where an animal decreases its metabolic rate and body temperature in order to survive for a period of time without food. Hummingbirds actual go into torpor each night to go to sleep (but that’s a post for another day). All the turtles were sunbathing on various logs or swimming around the lake. We must have easily seen at least 40 turtles.
In other news:
- The winner of Migration Madness Round 3 between the Great Blue Heron vs. the Bald Eagle was the Great Blue Heron. Friday’s Round 4 was between the Tree Swallow vs. the White-breast Nuthatch. I chose the Nuthatch because they are one of my favorite Feeder Friends and I like their calls. The winner hasn’t been announced yet.
- Wild Birds Unlimited’s Barred Owl Cam is up and running! This is the 3rd season (2nd that I’ve watched) in this next box in Indiana. This year Mom Owl laid 3 eggs; last year she laid two. You can watch it via the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Cam page or Wild Birds Unlimited’s website.
- We finally have a hummingbird feeder! More on that tomorrow.