22 July 2024

Archive for March, 2013

Song sparrows

Sunday, March 31st, 2013
Song sparrow, Glen Cove, Rockport, Maine, 31 March 2013.

Song sparrow.

They’re not uncommon hereabouts. Abundant, even. But that first morning song I hear each spring thrills me nonetheless. Just something about the joyful trills and chimes of the aptly named song sparrow.

Tufted titmouse, Glen Cove, Rockport, Maine, 31 March 2013.

Tufted titmouse.

Heard two of them this sunny morning. Heard one at Beech Hill this cloudy afternoon. Saw one in my parking lot after Jack and I returned from our hike. They’re here now for maybe nine or ten months—even more for that handful that overwinters in warmish, sheltered areas near saltwater. One comforting thing about the species: an individual will return year after year to the same neighborhood, the same bush even. If you pay attention, you can recognize the bird from its song (they’re all unique). I’ll never forget the sinking feeling I felt one spring about this time over at the quarry when the bird that returned had a different voice than the bird that had nested there the previous year.

Next month (which starts tomorrow already), fox sparrows will move through. And soon Savannah sparrows will show up, and chippies. But there’s just something comforting and enduring about the presence of song sparrows in my life.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 4:15 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. Black-capped chickadee** (v)
2. Northern cardinal* (v)
3. Song sparrow* (v)†
4. American crow* (v)
5. Dark-eyed junco* (v)
6. Downy woodpecker (booming)
7. Turkey vulture
8. Blue jay** (v)


9. Tufted titmouse
10. American woodcock (v)
11. House finch (v)
12. Herring gull
13. European starling
14. Mourning dove
15. White-breasted nuthatch (v)
16. House sparrow (v)

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere

Spring lull

Saturday, March 30th, 2013
American robin, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 March 2013.

American robin.

I had understood that today would be a little cooler than yesterday, perhaps breezier, when in fact neither was the case. It was a mostly sunny day, with a light breeze, and temperatures up into the 50s (F) again. I couldn’t keep from embarking on another good long bike ride, and then Jack and I hiked all the Beech Hill trails.

Oak leaf, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 March 2013.

Oak leaf.

Many birds, including two first-of-year species: a handful of juncos at Beech Hill’s Rockville Street trail head, and a nice-sized flock of grackles in town. Lots of robins everywhere. (They were all over Beech Hill.) The trails were muddy—especially the wooded ones, where seasonal streams follow the course of a few—but I didn’t care. I sloshed right through. Jack, on the other hand, tends to sidestep the mucky stretches in dainty fashion.

But for all the sun and warmth, still no great burst of seasonal energy. We’re in the the midst of that annual lull: spring before spring peepers.

Meanwhile, all that exercise got me pleasantly tuckered out kind of early tonight. So there you go.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 4 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. Dark-eyed junco†
2. American robin*
3. Black-capped chickadee**
4. American crow*
5. Herring gull*
6. Mourning dove* (v)
7. Mallard*


7. Tufted titmouse (v)
8. House finch (v)
9. Rock pigeon
10. House sparrow (v)
11. Turkey vulture
12. Northern cardinal
13. White-breasted nuthatch (v)
14. Golden-crowned kinglet
15. Common grackle†
16. European starling

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere
†First-of-year bird

Trail through oaks, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 March 2013.

Trail through oaks.


Friday, March 29th, 2013
Cloud, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 29 March 2013.


For the past two nights, I’ve dreamed of riding a bicycle without handlebars. That, along with a temperature that made it up into the 50s (F) this sunny midday, convinced me it was finally time to break out my bike.

I had, ironically, waited until early afternoon, when I figured the day would reach its warmest, when by then clouds had moved over everything. Still warm, though, and not much wind, and the 18-mile ride was sublime. (In another bit of irony, I actually rode without hands—i.e., no handlebars—for at least one of those 18 miles.) Only two motorists cut me off, but I was ready for them. And two pedestrians told me hello in Camden. And it didn’t rain.

Also, I heard a ton of birds along my cycling route—just about every overwintering local inland resident except woodpeckers. And after the ride, I took a nice hike up Beech Hill with Jack.

Crows and chickadees and titmice on the hill. And in the southern sky, a lovely cloud.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 4:15 p.m., I hiked the open trail.

1. Black-capped chickadee**
2. Tufted titmouse** (v)
3. American crow*


4. House finch (v)
5. Blue jay (v)
6. Herring gull
7. Northern cardinal (v)
8. American robin
9. House sparrow (v)
10. Rock pigeon
11. European starling
12. Mallard

v = Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere

Bird Report is a (sometimes intermittent) record of the birds I encounter while hiking, see while driving, or spy outside my window. —Brian Willson

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