Summer

The calendar isn’t totally accurate. Despite the fact that we are still technically in spring, the birds tell me that it is summer. Instead of a random assortment of migrating birds, my first birding outing in two weeks today brought me many summer residents who are here to stay for at least another couple of months (well, with one exception).

The first stop was at a very flooded Eagle Marsh for the first notable bird. I was alerted to it thanks to the always reliable IN-Bird-L email list: Bell’s Vireo. Having scanned through field guides, I guess I was aware that this is a bird, so it was not technically a brain bird for me (see definition), but I knew almost nothing about it. Not where it lives, not what it looks like, and not what it sounds like. The emails on the list-serve described “vigorous singing,” so I looked up its voice (you can too), and heard its distinct scratching-a-record call almost immediately on exiting my vehicle. It stayed well hidden in dense brush, and I only got two glimpses of it: once when it flew to another dense area of brush, and once when it popped its head up for about an eighth of a second. But I stayed and listened to him for almost half an hour, which is as good a field mark as any. Life bird #205 and year bird #122.

So enough about that Bell’s Vireo. Here is a pretty picture of another bird that I also saw at the marsh:

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

I also saw year bird #123 Common Yellowthroat, the only warbler of the entire day, on that stop. Several muskrats were also a highlight.

After Eagle Marsh, I headed to Franke Park, being turned away by flooded roads to Fox Island (common theme). The very first species of bird that I saw was this:

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

You know it’s a good birding day when there are pelicans acting like Canada Geese. These chaps must have been migrating and grounded by the storms that we had a few days ago, and they were making a holiday of it by staying at the park. This picture was taken from the window of my car, to give you an indication of how close they were. I have seen these elsewhere this year in both Greene and Marion Counties, but this was by far the best look I have ever had of this species.

#124 Eastern Wood-Pewee

#124 Eastern Wood-Pewee

I heard about a thousand Eastern Wood-Pewees while at Franke, and this one was good for year bird #124.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

And while we’re talking about flycatchers, here is one of many of the Great Crested variety that were hanging around the frog pond.

I finished the day with distant looks (but great audio) from a Wood Thrush, year bird #125. I am exactly half way to my stated goal of 250, but I am pretty sure that I can save that number for another year. It will be nearly impossible with all of the spring migrants that I missed from being busy with first-time homeownership, that new job in a new city, and a baby due in two months. But if that is my tradeoff for less birding, I will gladly take it!

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The Yard List

On Saturday I set out for Fox Island early to try and pump up my list with more spring migrants. I was lucky enough to encounter a group from the Stockbridge Audubon Society conducting a bird survey, and I got to hike with them for several hours. I got ten new year birds, including one lifer: #107 Indigo Bunting, #108 Chestnut-Sided Warbler, #109 Brown Thrasher, #110 Yellow Warbler, #111 Magnolia Warbler, #112 American Redstart, #113 Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, #114 White-Crowned Sparrow (finally!), #115 Green Heron, and #116 and life bird Great Crested Flycatcher.

#111 Magnolia Warbler

#111 Magnolia Warbler

As evidenced by the fact that this was my best shot of a year bird, it was a poor day for photos with very overcast skies scattering all of the light.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Not even the easily seen birds got good photos.

Despite the poor picture quality, it was a great weekend for birds, and they just kept on coming once I got home. In Indianapolis, our “yard” was more or less a parking strip separating our house from 51st Street. In Fort Wayne, we have much more suitable habitat, which helps quite a bit.

The New Back Yard

The New Back Yard

We have extensive cover that includes a row of pine trees that screen us from our neighbors to the west, which I think actually does more to attract the birdies than our feeder and bath.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

This is Eleanor the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. She is one of the happy denizens of our new home and has been frequenting the sunflower seed offered by the new feeder that was sent as a housewarming gift by my sister. She has been hanging around for three days now. We have seen a male only briefly; he made a hovering approach for about two seconds this morning, and we were lucky enough to see him while eating breakfast, but he darted away and has disappeared, not to be seen since. Eleanor is cool, but I hope her gentleman caller comes back.

#116 Great Crested Flycatcher

#116 Great Crested Flycatcher

The first morning we observed Eleanor, I saw a pale yellow flicker in the pine trees out of the corner of my eye. After running to get my binoculars, I was able to check Great Crested Flycatcher off of our yard list, not more than 24 hours after checking it off of my life list. I think it’s pretty amazing that we have logged this species in the yard before things like House Finch and White-Breasted Nuthatch.

#117 Least Flycatcher

#117 Least Flycatcher

Yesterday was Flycatcher day at the Majewski homestead, as this small bird appeared just after the Great Crested made its appearance. I originally thought it was a Phoebe, but after a closer look through binoculars and some painful deliberation in my field guide, I concluded Least Flycatcher. People on Facebook agreed, and I ticked this species off both the year list and the yard list at the same time. Here’s hoping that the next yard birds will be Vermillion and Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers. One can hope, right?