A “Big” Day

In the world of birding, the term “Big Day” is used to describe an event where birders try to count as many birds possible in one day. Dave and I didn’t attempt this kind of event, but we had a “big day” in a difference sense: we saw multiple species of large birds.

Rain was a constant threat, but did that deter us from going bird watching? Of course not! Many birders don’t like going out on overcast days, but I love it. The sun isn’t drowning out all the bird’s details as you try to see them in your binoculars and there are less people out so it’s quieter. We decided it would be a nice day to go to Amico Island.

On the way to Amico Island we spotted a large group of Wild Turkeys in a field. There were at least 20 of them. All the males were strutting around doing courtship displays to try to impress the hens.  When a male Wild Turkey  displays he droops his wings, fans his tail feathers, and struts around in a sort of “dance”. They may gobble to warn off other suitors and attract females to watch them. Male Wild Turkeys are polygamous, meaning one male may mate with multiple females. Dave was able to get a video of one of the males mating. Seeing this large flock was a fantastic sight. In the first video you can see the mating pair and in the second video one particular male is trying to woo a hen with his dance.

Wild Turkeys strutting around (Image by David Horowitz)
male turkey display
A displaying male Wild Turkey (Image by BirdNation)

Once at Amico Island our trend of large birds continued. When we visited Amico Island about a month ago there were about 10 Great Blue Herons preparing their rookery (a.k.a nesting colony). We did see them again, but this time they had a visitor hanging around: a Bald Eagle! The Herons were spending time  in their nests while the Bald Eagle stood on a neighboring branch. They looked out over the water together for a little while until the Bald Eagle finally flew away.

Great Blue Herons and a Bald Eagle enjoying the view (Image by David Horowitz)

The Bald Eagle wasn’t the only raptor we saw. A pair of Ospreys flew overhead by the pond on the red trail. This was our first Osprey pair we observed for the season. The female flew away, but the male stood around the pond to collect branches for his nest. It was so cool watching him tear branches off the trees. He decided to take a rest on a branch for a bit when another Great Blue Heron showed up. I guess the heron thought the Osprey needed some company, because the heron chose to perch directly next him. The two were an unlikely pair, and it looked like they were having a showdown. (Or a staring contest? If that was the case the Osprey looked away first so the Heron won that haha :-P) They stood facing each other for at least 10 minutes before flying off to continue their duties. This is what I love about birding, you never know what you’ll see!

The Odd Couple: a Great Blue Heron and an Osprey (Image by David Horowitz)

Of course, we didn’t see only  large birds. We saw many robins, sparrows, 4 Northern Flickers, Mourning Doves, Red-winged Blackbirds, Canada Geese, and this Downy Woodpecker. This lovely lady let us get very close to her and didn’t seem to mind us watching her climb up the tree (by the way, this image is not cropped).

A lovely Downy Woodpecker posing for her portrait (Image by David Horowitz)

It was such a beautiful afternoon. Who needs the sun out when you have wonderful birds to make your day sunny?

Author: BirdNation

I am an avid birder, teacher, and nature lover. I'm a New Jersey native and recent New Hampshire transplant. I am currently a biology student with interests in conservation biology, ornithology, and environmental sciences. My dream is to go birding in all 50 states.

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