Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Cool Birds, Etc.

It's been a very good week for backyard birding here in the swamp...

When I got up this morning I looked out my front door, and the first bird I saw was a male Indigo Bunting. It's blue plumage almost glowed. Later I saw both a male and female in my yard, and then I spotted an odd little bird foraging at ground level in my garden. It was greenish above and yellowish below, so at first I thought it was some kind of warbler, but then I saw the conical bill and realized I was looking at a bunting...a female Painted Bunting! This is another new bird for my yard list, #99! I suppose if I counted an unidentified duck I recently saw I could claim it for my 100th yard bird. I was hoping for a multicolored male, but you take what you can get.

On Monday, April 26th, I added Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Blue Grosbeak to my yard list (the Blue Grosbeaks, a female and molting male, were actually observed from the pond loop). Other highlights included a pair of Anhingas soaring over the pond, a Little Blue Heron, 2 Mississippi Kites, a Red-headed Woodpecker, a Pileated Woodpecker, a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers, a Black-throated Green Warbler, a Yellow-throated Warbler (in pines near the pond), Summer Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, and Orchard Oriole.

Yesterday (April 27th), at about 8:50am, I was again thrilled to see an AMERICAN SWALLOW-TAILED KITE circling over the pond! What a graceful bird. It's been about a month since my two previous sightings. Later I also observed a Mississippi Kite over the pond, followed by 3 more soaring up high. The only other raptor seen was a Red-shouldered Hawk that flew by carrying nesting material (with a very upset Common Grackle in close pursuit). An Anhinga and a pair of Inca Doves made brief appearances. The 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks seen in the morning included a brightly colored male perched in the tall tree behind my bedroom. Later I saw a male Baltimore Oriole in the same tree. Once again the resident Yellow-throated Warbler was heard singing from tall pines around the pond. Earlier in the morning I found a large dragonfly resting motionless in a bush waiting for the heat to rise. It had three brown spots on each wing, and a long thin abdomen that forked at the end. After close study I identified it as a Prince Baskettail, another new species for my growing dragonfly list.

Yesterday I also spent a few hours birding at Sabine Woods. Highlights included 4 species of thrushes (had a Veery practically land at our feet!), 19 species of warblers (including Canada, Blackburnian, and Bay-breasted), Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, and flocks of Indigo Buntings. Not bad.


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