26 May 2022

Fresh territory

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
Hermit thrush, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 April 2013.

Hermit thrush.

Spring on the 44th parallel, for the returning birds, means laying claim, hammering stakes, establishing possession of territory. And it’s oh-so-evident these days.

Brown-headed cowbirds, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 April 2013.

Brown-headed cowbirds.

Chickadees singing fee-bee! Titmice with peter-peter-peter! The songs of hermit thrushes, towhees, Savannah sparrows, field sparrows, chipping sparrows. The quality of the birdsong is relatively soft and fluty just now, before the arrival of wood-warblers. Thrushes, sparrows, finches. Crows’ voices are jarring, of course. Towhees can be kind of shrill. But the general feel of the ambient sound on a sunny early morning is soft, gently insistent.

Coming down the open Beech Hill trail with dog today, I got a look at a pair of male brown-headed cowbirds—that parasitic species—perched in the same small treetop, challenging each other to a duel. Or just plain dueling, I don’t know. I’d never seen the behavior before: each raising its head, puffing up, spreading wings, emitting a grating squee! Back and forth they went. I’m not sure if it was so much a challenge as a competition. Who had the most drive, the most insistence in puffing up and hollering squee! over and over.

I especially admire the soft trill of the Savannah sparrows just now, ending in their little patented hiccup. I could lie in the grass and nap to that lovely sound.

Savannah sparrow, Beech Hill, Rockport, Maine, 30 April 2013.

Savannah sparrow.

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

1. Black-capped chickadee**
2. Hairy woodpecker (v)
3. Tufted titmouse** (v)
4. Northern cardinal** (v)
5. Herring gull*
6. Eastern phoebe**
7. American crow*
8. Blue-headed vireo (v)
9. American robin*
10. Eastern towhee**
11. Yellow-rumped warbler
12. Blue jay (v)
13. American goldfinch (v)
14. Song sparrow**
15. Savannah sparrow
16. Field sparrow
17. House finch**
18. Brown-headed cowbird**
19. Chipping sparrow**
20. Tree swallow (v)
21. Mourning dove (v)
22. Northern flicker (v)
23. Downy woodpecker
24. Osprey**


25. House sparrow (v)

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

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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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