28 February 2024

Archive for April, 2014

Cold rain

Sunday, April 27th, 2014
Black-capped Chickadee, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 27 April 2014.

Black-capped Chickadee.

Cold rain this morning. And that’s about all I’ve got to say about that.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 7:45 a.m., I hiked all trails.

1. Black-capped Chickadee**
2. Northern Flicker (v)
3. American Crow*
4. American Robin
5. Eastern Towhee
6. American Goldfinch (v)
7. Mourning Dove*
8. Northern Cardinal* (v)
9. Herring Gull*
10. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
11. Yellow-rumped Warbler
12. Song Sparrow**
13. Savannah Sparrow
14. Brown-headed Cowbird
15. House Finch (v)
16. Chipping Sparrow (v)
17.Blue Jay (v)
18. Ruffed Grouse (drumming)
19. Eastern Phoebe
20. Hermit Thrush
21. Pileated Woodpecker (v)
22. Tufted Titmouse (v)


23. Downy Woodpecker (v)

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


Drink your damn tea already

Saturday, April 26th, 2014
Eastern Towhee, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 26 April 2014.

Eastern Towhee.

There’s no question that the most abundant bird species at Beech Hill Preserve—at least at this time of year—is the Eastern Towhee. Or maybe they’re just the most vocal right about now. All over the hill, along every trail, you’re admonished to Drink your tea!

What interests me is how varied a towhee’s call is. Most utter some kind of trill as the last of the three syllables, but the song of one I’ve heard up there ends with a high, thin Squee! And another bird—it’s settled in the same area for the past few years—offers up no trills at all, just three ringing chimes. On at least two days, I’ve heard a towhee whose last syllable sounds exactly like a goldfinch trill. (No, seriously, exactly.) Then again, often one of these birds will simply sing the first two syllables, skipping the third altogether. And an individual will have more than one style of call, which confuses things even more. A couple times I’ve chased after some crazy, unfamiliar song to find it belonged to a towhee.

Interesting also is just which birds are singing at this time of year. Towhees, of course, on this chilly overcast morning. And Song Sparrows. A few chickadees. The Chipping Sparrow down by the road. Ruby-crowned Kinglets are still singing (they seem plentiful in migration this year), and a few of the Yellow-rumped Warblers that are moving through. Savannah Sparrows have just begun to sing some, but they’ll remain a little skittish until the grass greens up and thickens.

It was a pretty birdy morning for being so plain and gray. Heard a loon and a Red-bellied Woodpecker and saw a Palm Warbler. Jack and I ran into my birder friend Ed and his dog.

But at the end of it all, as we drove away, still ringing in my ears…  Drink your tea!  Drink your tea-a-a-a!

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 7:30 a.m., I hiked all trails.

1. Black-capped Chickadee*
2. Tufted Titmouse (v)
3. Eastern Towhee
4. American Robin*
5. Northern Flicker (v)
6. American Goldfinch (v)
7. Herring Gull*
8. American Crow*
9. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
10. White-throated Sparrow (v)
11. Yellow-rumped Warbler
12. Song Sparrow**
13. Hermit Thrush
14. Brown-headed Cowbird
15. Eastern Phoebe
16. Savannah Sparrow
17. Northern Cardinal* (v)
18. Pileated Woodpecker (v)
19. House Finch (v)
20. Blue Jay (v)
21. Chipping Sparrow (v)
22. White-breasted Nuthatch (v)
23. Mourning Dove*
24. Common Loon (v)
25. Palm Warbler
26. Red-bellied Woodpecker (v)
27. Hairy Woodpecker (v)
28. Mallard*


29. Wild Turkey
30. European Starling

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


Things are picking up

Friday, April 25th, 2014
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 25 April 2014.

Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Earliest morning this spring so far, I’m pretty sure. Nearly cloudless but nippy, with a little frost here and there. Within a hundred yards of the trailhead, I’d counted a dozen species—including a fast-moving Brown Creeper (heard one singing later on). We flushed a partridge, Jack and me.

Coming up into the open fields, sure enough, there sat a sparrow hawk on an upper twig, surveying the grass. Out of nowhere, a large winged shape appeared, and I watched too stunned to raise my camera as a good-sized Cooper’s Hawk approached us not very far off the ground. The kestrel scrammed, and the Cooper’s cruised lazily overheard. First one of those I’ve seen this year

Hermit Thrush, Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport, Maine, 25 April 2014.

Hermit Thrush.

Lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets still, and more yellow-rumps than yesterday.

Up at the summit, we caught the brunt of a westerly wind. Somewhere in that wind, I heard the song of a Field Sparrow—another FOY bird. The Savannah’s are laying low, still, but singing. Still a bunch of cowbirds. A pair of mallards zipped overhead.

Returning down through the lower woods, we encountered a large dead pine that had fallen in (I assume) yesterday’s high wind. It fell on a curve, completely blocking the trail. Just beyond the pine, I heard the distinctive distant drumming of a sapsucker. It had found a loud tree. Within a few moments, another woodpecker began to drum from another direction—not a sapsucker, though. (a Hairy Woodpecker, I’m pretty sure.)

Four woodpeckers, five sparrows, a couple thrushes, one warbler. Within a week or so, there’ll be more warblers, catbirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks, another thrush species or two.

An exciting time of year.

Beech Hill List
Beginning at 6:30 a.m., I hiked all trails.

1. Tufted Titmouse (v)
2. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3. House Finch** (v)
4. Hairy Woodpecker (v)
5. Eastern Phoebe
6. Blue Jay (v)
7. Hermit Thrush**
8. Northern Flicker*
9. Brown Creeper
10. Black-capped Chickadee**
11. American Crow*
12. Eastern Towhee
13. American Goldfinch (v)
14. Ruffed Grouse
15. Brown-headed Cowbird**
16. Yellow-rumped Warbler
17. American Robin*
18. Northern Cardina (v)
19. American Kestrel
20. Cooper’s Hawk†
21. Herring Gull*
22. Field Sparrow† (v)
23. Savannah Sparrow
24. Chipping Sparrow (v)
25. White-breasted Nuthatch (v)
26. White-throated Sparrow (v)
27. Osprey (v)
28. Mallard
29. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (drumming)
30. Pileated Woodpecker (v)
31. Mourning Dove* (v)

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


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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