Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Premier Warbler Weekend

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) Image courtesy of Audubon
What a great spring weekend!  On Saturday morning, May 10, I accompanied the dedicated group of birders that frequents the Pennypack Preserve for their annual Spring Bird Count.  We were out in the field for 4-1/2 hours, during which time we tallied 65 species (and I got a bit of a sunburn when the sun came out from behind the clouds during the last two hours).  Included in the list were 13 species of warblers; they were the main reason that I went on the bird walk because the warblers are only here for a few days each spring and fall during migration, and I get "rusty" on my identification skills.  The birders all proclaimed this year to be one of the best years for spotting warblers in decades.

A list of the birds we spotted during the Count is posted on the kiosk near the Visitor Center.  The same information can be accessed on the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology's e-Bird website.

Actually, my great "weekend" began one day earlier.  As I was scooping birdseed from my storage can in preparation for filling my feeder early on Friday morning, I heard a terrific "thwump" on the window behind me and knew instantly from that sickening sound that a bird had flown into the window.  I thought it was probably one of the Blue Jays that had been at the feeder a minute earlier fleeing from a hawk. But no, it was an Ovenbird, an aberrant warbler that looks like a tiny thrush (see image, above).  Fortunately, the bird was just stunned (and not killed) from the impact, which allowed me to gently lift it off the ground and give it a good inspection - including the orange cap that is almost never visible in the field.  I placed the bird back on the ground and 15 minutes later, when I went outside again, it flew off.

Submitted by
David Robertson, Executive Director