Peters Hill Fall Bird Walk

Twenty-three people joined me on this gray morning for a walk on Peters Hill in the Arnold Arboretum, looking and listening for birds.  It was slow going, with no fall warblers seen and several winter species still to arrive.  Our only unusual bird was seen by part of the group before it flew off; a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, showing the yellow cast on the breast, the distinct white shoulder patch and the red throat and crown characteristic of the species.

The other woodpecker was seen near the end of the trip; fortunately it stayed long enough for most to see it:

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker. This woodpecker is more common than the Sapsucker seen above, as it has moved up from southern areas over the last several decades due to global warming.

Far and away the most common species we saw was the American Robin; most were feasting on the abundant fruit on crabapples and hawthorns on the hill.

The American Robin has an estimated global population of 320 million, almost exclusively in North America.

We also saw several flocks of House Finch feeding actively on the fruit trees.

This photo of three House Finches shows the strong color differences between the drab gray female, left and the rosy red males.

Some in the group saw the other common resident finch in the Arboretum, American Goldfinch.

American Goldfinches lose their bright yellow coloration in the fall and winter.

We finished the walk with some good views of Northern Mockingbirds.

Northern Mockingbirds have long tails, and show distinctive white wing patches in flight.

Based on my scouting expeditions on Peters Hill before this walk, I knew the birding was not likely to be great, so I brought along a “prop” I found the day before:

In the closeup images of this Baltimore Oriole nest you can see the incredibly intricate weaving of the outside fibers and the rusty grass lining inside. How the female bird manages to put this nest together in about a week, and have it hold up through the bustle of four young birds plus herself for at least a month, defies understanding.

My other Arboretum bird walk scheduled two weeks ago was cancelled due to rain, and today we ended in misty rain as well. Despite the limited species seen, and the weather, it appeared that most of the birders enjoyed themselves.  Here is our list for the walk:

Arnold Arboretum, Suffolk, Massachusetts, US

Oct 14, 2017 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Comments:     60, cloudy

16 species

  • Red-tailed Hawk  1
  • Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
  • Mourning Dove  7
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
  • Blue Jay  12
  • Black-capped Chickadee  1
  • Tufted Titmouse  1
  • American Robin  60
  • Northern Mockingbird  2
  • European Starling  3
  • Chipping Sparrow  6
  • Northern Cardinal  5
  • House Finch  20
  • American Goldfinch  2
  • House Sparrow  2
  • View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39912487

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

On Sunday December 10th I will lead a walk along some of the ponds of the Emerald Necklace:

This 90-minute walk will focus on waterfowl and other winter species in the ponds and adjacent woods of the Emerald Necklace.  Suitable for beginning birders as well as more experienced birders.  The walk is co-sponsored by the National Park Service/Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, the Brookline GreenSpace Alliance and the Emerald Necklace Bird Club. Meeting Place: Parking lot for Daisy Field, Olmsted Park on Willow Pond Road, between Pond Avenue and the Jamaicaway. 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM.

I hope you can join me.

Good Birding!