This morning I had the fun of taking some old friends birding on my hill. They are newbies to birding, but very excited to learn. The road up my hill and back down goes through various habitats with fields, deep woods and ravines, and brushy areas. Different habitats means different birds. The day started out very dreary with terrible light; in fact my camera stayed in the back of my wagon. But when a Great Crested Flycatcher posed for us in the open, then an Indigo Bunting singing his “Fire, fire, where? where?, over here, over there…”, it was great to see them thrilled to see these birds even with little color. An Eastern Towhee singing, “Drink your tea-he-he-heeee!” gave us good looks at the top of the tree. A Common Yellowthroat showed us his bright yellow throat and black mask–very exciting! Down through the woods brought us a pair of Scarlet Tanagers busily scaring up food for their babies, an ovenbird singing, “teacher, teacher, teacher!”, and the sounds of the beautiful Wood thrush and the plain Eastern Wood-Peewee.
As we came out into the field at the bottom of the woods, the sun came out and the camera came out as well. A Brown Thrasher showed up in the bushes and an entire family of Red-tailed Hawks gave their screams and flew around along with the Turkey Vultures.
With the hay mowed a week or so ago, the Bobolinks and Grasshopper sparrows were gone, hopefully with their young. No Meadowlarks or Red-winged Blackbirds were heard, but we found Yellow Warbler singing “Sweet, sweet, sweet! I’m so sweet!” , a House Wren with his jumbled song, and a multitude of Catbirds, Robins, and Starlings in the shrubby area on both sides of the road. A Kestrel made a brief appearance also.
Hoping to show them Willow Flycatcher among the willows by the creek, one of my friends spotted an Orchard Oriole! We all got good looks of this handsome bird and his mate. The male was carrying a caterpillar in his beak and we saw them visit the same clump of bushes several times which made us wonder if that’s where the nest was. Some young barn swallows perched overhead on the power line while the adults swooped into the barn across the road.
I’d say that my friends have the makings of some good birders! They were quietly watching for movement, catching on to songs and even ways to describe where they are seeing a new bird (11:00 in the dead tree!), and they have the desire to study their songs. I recommended a great starting CD for them called, “Bird Song Ear Training Guide” by John Feith as well as the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds. Hopefully this little field trip will be the first of many!