Friday, February 25, 2011

A good find!

Monday, with a week left in the month, I had a good birding find...

Still too snowy down the stairway towards the river

As I explored the possibility of walking into the Nature Preserve along the Oyster River I saw a large dark bird fly into the treetops. My brain first registered raven - dark bird, larger than a crow. Now perched, through binoculars I could see raptor bill - no raven that.
Then, distinct black and white bands materialized on the tail. Not an immature red-tail either. Wait, it's a new species for West Campus -
a Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus.

Oyster River running through campus

The first paragraph of Cornell University's introduction to this species indicates that it favors exactly the type of habitat that we have here at West Campus. We'll have to keep an eye out for this bird as the weeks progress into March, when breeding behavior is usually observed. West Campus may be too small to support two pairs of breeding buteos - we already have a resident pair of Red-tailed Hawks...

On another bird note - as I leaned over the stone wall to photograph the river, I saw a smallish brown bird flitting in riverside bushes. With our nearly year-old mantra in my head (never say "it's just a...") I raised binoculars again - a Hermit Thrush! Two months ago Lynn and Lourdes had seen three on the Christmas bird count. First-year birds of this species often over-winter here in southern New England, so I wasn't terribly surprised, but it was a great bird find even so.

Take a look at the range map - you'll see a sliver of green (year-round) along coastal Connecticut.
Hmm - I've also seen them in northeastern CT during the winter...

Bird list for the week of February 21-25:
Wild Turkey
Canada Goose
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Red-tailed Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
Downy Woodpecker
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
American Crow

European Starling
American Robin
Hermit Thrush
Black-capped Chickadee
Northern Cardinal

White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow

That's just seventeen species for the week - probably because Lynn headed south to Florida and she has often been the primary birder here at West Campus. I hope you're enjoying the birds down there Lynn!!!
I'll be keeping an eye out for Common Redpoll or another Pine Siskin - they're around in good numbers in some parts of the state. Blackbirds are also returning these days - and we still don't have a Rusty Blackbird for our WC list.
This month is usually a real transition time, some northern birds still pushing south in the search for a good food supply, and some early returns pushing north with the melting of the snowcover. Fun times!

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