Warblers have arrived

As you may be aware, this handsome red bird is not an unusual visitor to my blog. All birders in northeast Ohio, as well as many other states, are familiar with the Northern cardinals, which are year-round residents of this area. So while I was hoping to find some migratory warblers on my trail walk today, and the cardinal doesn’t fit the bill, I couldn’t resist posting his picture because he almost looks like royalty in his wonderful red plumage.

With that said, and the cardinal given his due, below is the yellow warbler, the first one I spotted this spring, which makes it special in my book!

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Take a close look at his beak and you will see that this little yellow, a male, as indicated by his streaky breast, has been successfully foraging for insects for breakfast. A nimble little bird, he probably picks the insects off the foliage or possibly even captures them as they fly by. His typical prey is midges, caterpillars, beetles, leafhoppers and other bugs, and wasps. It may be my imagination, but I think he looks rather proud of his catch!

Although the weather forecast for the next couple of weeks isn’t very promising, with only one day predicted to have temperatures above 70 degrees, I hope to get out and find more warblers. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

See you soon along the trail!
Trail Walkers

 

Spring migration was in full swing…

Two weeks ago, when the annual spring migration was in full swing, birders were all agog over their unique opportunities to see and photograph unusual warblers and other birds rarely seen in our area. Many parks celebrated with special events, and birders planned field trips to prime location along the shoreline. I didn’t have time to take part in the festivities this year, but to my surprise, on Saturday, May 13th, a number of unexpected guests flew into my backyard bird buffet.

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Through the morning and most of the afternoon birds were flying from feeder to feeder and tree to tree, while I stood and gawked in amazement. For me, the most exciting  visitor was the redheaded woodpecker. Downy and red-bellied woodpeckers are common visitors. Even the pileated woodpecker that I blogged about yesterday has become a regular this summer, but seeing that redheaded bird in my backyard was a huge treat and a cause for celebration.

Could I ask for a more photogenic guest? While he may be common in other areas, he is definitely a rarity in my backyard buffet. What an unusual Saturday that was!

Thanks for stopping by today. See you soon.
~Trail Walker

The wrens have returned!

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When we’re talking birds, migration is a fascinating topic, especially in the spring when the woods are awake with the sight and song of the warblers and other birds that haven’t been around during the cold winter months.

The bird pictured above, a house wren, is small and looks sweet, but according to my i-bird app, they are fiercely territorial and have been known to destroy the eggs of bluebirds and other small birds. So…definitely not sweet! However it is fun to watch them “feather their nesting holes” and settle in for the summer. One afternoon this week I hung around for a half-hour or so and watched for this little one to return to the nesting hole. When she did, I snapped a sequence of pictures as she came to her “front door” and peered outside.

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Look closely and, in a few of the pictures, you can see the “sawdust” on her beak, a result of her efforts to excavate the nest. That’s something human mothers don’t have to do to provide a home for their newborn babies.

This same skinny tree has been used before, perhaps by the same wren. Reportedly they can live up to seven years in the wild, so this could be the same little bird I’ve seen in past years. However, this year the entrance to the nest is on the side of the tree facing the trail. In previous years, it was on the other side; the bird would fly up to the (very skinny) tree, land on the side facing the bog, and disappear inside. She is just one of numerous wrens that have returned to the bog in recent days. I don’t know how many there are, but, according to Wikipedia, the house wren is the most widely distributed bird in the Americas, and as I walk along the trail, I can hear their melodic song from high and low on both sides of the trail.

One final fact for this post is that a group of wrens can be referred to by several different names: a chime, flight, flock, or even a herd of wrens. A herd of wrens? That takes me back to my teen years when I would go with my father to inspect the herds of dairy cows that produced milk the farmers were shipping to market in Philadelphia. That was another time, another place, and a very different animal from this herd of wrens that has moved into Chagrin River Park for the summer. I wonder who would possibly have come up with the term “herd of wrens?” As a term for a group of wrens, it certainly doesn’t work for me; nevertheless, the park is filled with their song, and I enjoy seeing and hearing this “herd” of migratory birds.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

Long day and a productive photowalk

Note: If you want to scroll through a gallery or see the large version of a photo, just click the pic.

It has been one of those days that started early and just kept on going. By the time I got out for a photowalk, the afternoon light was waning, but the birds were still active. I headed for the bluebird nesting boxes first; both mom and pop bluebirds were there, and perched nearby was a tree swallow, so I added his picture to my collection for the day.

Walking on, I headed past the bog, where I spotted flashes of bright yellow. Click, click, click! I captured several colorful birds, but at first I wasn’t quite sure what they were.

…until this handsome dude showed up on the scene…

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…and I exclaimed, “Oh! Orioles! Both the male and female.”

Then they discovered each other, and I quickly captured the surprising interaction with my camera!

Gotta love witnessing that interaction, but the walk wasn’t over yet. On the way back to my car, I saw a downy woodpecker…

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…a singing cardinal,2015_05_07_Chagrin River Park_183
…and a very shy mystery warbler who was hiding in the underbrush.
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And that was the end of the evening and the very productive walk in the park. If you liked it as much as I did, feel free to comment. I would love to know if you had a favorite picture.

Thanks for stopping by today!
Skip aka Carolyn

It’s spring migration time!

Living only a mile south of Lake Erie has both advantages and disadvantages. Today I experienced both. The lake was almost 100% covered by ice this winter. We experienced the coldest February on record when the temperature hovered in the single digits for many days. As a result, spring has been very slow in arriving. We had a taste of it last week and hoped it was here to stay, but it waved goodbye this week with high winds and temperatures falling to near freezing at night and only reaching into the mid-forties during the day. The advantage of living here is that we are located on the flyway taken by many birds on their spring and fall migration. Many Canada-bound birds that don’t live here year round pause in our parks and neighborhoods to rest and refuel before flying across Lake Erie.

Early May is the  peak of the warbler migration through our area. Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, west of Cleveland on Lake Erie, is dubbed the warbler capital of the world! I drove out there one year with my daughter on “International Migratory Bird Day” and was amazed by the number of birds and birders. It was fun and exciting, but also very crowded.  It was a challenge to walk 20 steps without colliding into someone with their eyes to the sky or the tree tops.

Due to the cool weather, the migration is not yet in full swing, but on my walk in the park today I was lucky enough to come across a ruby-crowned kinglet and to actually get several photos of him, including one that shows the ruby spot that gives him his name. He is the second smallest bird in Ohio, a lovely little bird. Take a look (Click a bird to see the larger version).

That’s all for today. Despite the chill in the air, I was glad I took a walk in the park.

See you soon.
Carolyn aka Skip

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