After the Storm

I always like to do a bird walk in January to help fill out everyone’s Year List.  Then every sparrow, jay or robin counts for the new year.  This morning was a challenge though, with an overnight moderate nor’easter and dawn temperatures at 9 degrees.  With a lot of help from the Arboretum staff- clearing the roadways and providing warming refreshments at the end of the walk- I think all of the eight hardy folks that came to the walk thought it worth their effort.  Some birds even decided to joint us as well.

We started off viewing the feeding station next to the Visitors Center where there were only a few birds.  The best sighting, albeit briefly, was a lovely Carolina Wren:

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Carolina Wren, showing it’s distinct white eyebrow.

As we were watching the feeders someone spotted a Red-tailed Hawk coming in for a landing on the building roof.  It was a juvenile and not showing the rusty-red tail of the adult bird:

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Adult Red-tailed Hawk

As we moved up the road we stopped near some shrubs where some pishing exposed nearly 20 House Finches.

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House Finches, a drab female on the left

At the end of the walk we saw more of these pretty birds at the feeders:

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Male House finch, showing a brown cap, streaked sides and noticeable wing-bars, all of which distinguish them from their much rarer cousins, the Purple Finch.

At the ponds we spotted a bevy of Mourning Doves; what lovely creatures:

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Mourning Dove close up

I mentioned to the group that there currently were two White-winged Doves that have been seen by many birders in the Victory Gardens in the Fenway. They are rare in New England.

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Two White-winged Doves beside a Mourning Dove on left. Note the distinct white wing edge , the square tail, the red iris and the darker color of the White-winged birds. Fenway Victory Gardens

Birds were few and far between for much of the walk. We stopped at the now almost famous roost hole in a Black Locust near the ponds on our return, hoping to see the red-phase Eastern Screech-owl that has frequented the hole for the last several winters.

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Eastern Screech-owl, red color morph.

Alas it was not present!  I played the eerie call of this owl from an app on my iPhone, hoping one might respond.  I heard nothing, so we continued down the road.  But several more patient birders hesitated- and were rewarded:

A screech was responding to the tape from somewhere in the woods.  Very cool!

Here is today’s complete list:

Arnold Arboretum, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Jan 8, 2017 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

Comments:     18 F, sunny. BBC walk

15 species

  • Red-tailed Hawk  1
  • Herring Gull  2
  • Mourning Dove  9
  • Eastern Screech-Owl  1     heard calling in response to tape near roost hole
  • Blue Jay  3
  • Black-capped Chickadee  2
  • Carolina Wren  1
  • American Robin  4
  • Northern Mockingbird  1
  • Dark-eyed Junco  4
  • Song Sparrow  2
  • Northern Cardinal  5
  • House Finch  20
  • American Goldfinch  2
  • House Sparrow  1

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33533078

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

Notably missing from the list were any woodpecker species (although a good birder in the group saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker following the walk), nuthatches, titmouses or other winter sparrows.

Good birding, and stay warm!