April 16, 2006

Flush, working on full house

85 eastern phoebe
86 warbling vireo
87 Louisiana waterthrush
88 golden-crowned kinglet
89 pileated woodpecker

APRIL 16, GRINDSTONE PARK, partly cloudy, 70—My home woods in Columbia are leafing out in spring green, redbuds linger at peak pink-purple, and wildflowers like wild sweet William, rue anemone, blue-eyed Mary, and trillium are out with others on the way. Also out are poison ivy and ticks.

Songbirds are back—for the first time this year I looked at warblers and vireos in the field guide. Familiar year-round birds are now in breeding plumage, the male goldfinch transformed from dull to bright yellow. I can see it's time for some more intensive CD study than I've been doing, because this is the season of Small Birds High Up in Trees, and recognizing songs and calls is key. Good birders find most of their species by voice, not sight. The Grindstone woods are so close to home I actually returned and listened to 10-12 songs before hitting the woods again—no immediate payoff, though.

The day's best moment was the pileated woodpecker. With the ivory-billed woodpecker in the news so much recently, it felt like a minor demigod version of the "Lord God bird" (ivorybill nickname). Over at Eagle Bluffs, I hear reports of cormorants, pelicans, and sandpipers. Today I voted for spring woods and wasn't sorry.


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