Monday, September 24, 2012

Predictable Birds of Fall

While being quite predictable, there is often good variety among the birds seen in the fall.  Over the last few days, I have seen all of these different birds.  Tucked away in this tree are three Baltimore Orioles.  Initially, two were seen in Blackhead and another on the Cape Spear - Maddox Cove East Coast Trail.  It looks like they found each other.
In Pouch Cove, I came upon this immature Cedar Waxwing.  It is a far cry from the smooth, picture-perfect bird that will emerge at maturity. Interesting, it seems birds are sitting on wires a little more these days.
The Golden-crowned Kinglet is popping up all around.  They seem to be in small groups of three or four, and pose quite a challenge for a photographer, as they usually flip around (a lot) in and among the branches that obscure view.  While they seem curious at first, they don't stick around very long.  It is always worth checking out any common flock of birds because other, more unusual, species may be travelling with them.  This was the case on the weekend when a Black-throated Blue Warbler was found by Clyde Thornhill and Dave Smith on Blackhead Road hanging with a small group of kinglets.
The American Goldfinch are looking a little worse for wear these days. They can often be found in large groups gathering around thistle.  I was watching such a group in Pouch Cove when a Sharp-shinned Hawk swept in and quickly dispersed them all.
From Bauline Line Extension to Flatrock, I recently saw five different Gray Jays. It is not that common for this species to be so close to St. John's. Nevertheless, I have seen this species regularly on Blackhead Road.
This great little Hermit Thrush popped out of the woods on Bauline Line Extension on Friday.  I tried to turn it into another type of thrush, but its flicking tail confirmed it is a Hermit.  They are the only thrush (robins aside) that flick their tail regularly.  I also recently saw a Hermit Thrush in the community of Blackhead.
So far this year, I have seen four Red-eyed Vireos.  They tend to be alone or on the edges of other flocks of birds.  They also tend to stay tight into the undergrowth. However, this year, I have seen two (this one included) that popped up fairly high in a tree and stayed for a few moments.
Anywhere you look these days, there are sparrows.  The fields are filled with them. Nevertheless, it is wise to look them all over closely, because ocassionaly an uncommon one can appear, such as the Lark Sparrow.
The most abundant bird, sparrows excepted, these days is the Yellow-rumped Warbler.  I have recently come across three flocks of thirty or more of this species.  I look and look in the hopes that a more unusual species may be with them. Most of the other warblers have already disappeared. Often hanging out in the same vicinity as the Yellow-rumps are the kinglets and both species of chickadees. The Boreals Chickadees seem to be really plentiful.
Always ready to upset the calm are the very-present predators.  I have decided that this is a Northern Goshawk because of the rounded tail, the stripe above the eye and the vertical breast streaks vs. the horizontal streaks of the Sharp-shinned Hawk. One thing confuses me about this bird, and that is the brownish face.

I saw two Sharp-shinned hawks yesterday, with one being in my backyard. 
Then, there is the Northern Harrier. I have seen one, sometimes more, nearly every day of the summer. I don't remember them being this plentiful last year, but there are lots this year. They swoop in quite close, even when people are around.

When one of these predators streaks into the scene, all of the little birds vanish. It sure can break up a nice little viewing session. It is just as well to move on, too, because sometimes, the little birds don't return.

Any short outing can yield a wide variety of species these days. With the weather and the fall birds, I can hardly stay indoors.


  1. Hey Lisa ! Seems like you have been doing really good so far this fall as far as finding interesting birds goes !
    I have thursday ohf this week off school, maybe we could try and get together and go out by cape spear !?


    1. Welcome back from your trip. Let's talk later in the week about a possible outing on Thursday.