May 06, 2007

Birds in bunches

126 common nighthawk
127 dickcissel
128 palm warbler
129 orchard oriole
130 great egret
131 sora
132 Baltimore oriole
133 fish crow
134 yellow warbler
135 greater scaup
136 eastern kingbird
137 rose-breasted grosbeak
(total on this date in 2006: 98)

MAY 6, EAGLE BLUFFS, partly cloudy, 75—With April's freeze damage behind us trees are now in full flush and spring migrants have no reason to move on. Not only are my numbers rising fast, but every week I'm picking up life birds: today, palm warbler and fish crow.

The Eagle Bluffs birds had two nice bookends: a midnight nighthawk above my neighborhood (almost the same date as 2006's first) and a rose-breasted grosbeak in the evening at my friend Shireen's birdfeeder.

Until recently fish crows were rare on the Missouri River, but their range expands year by year. Small differences between fish and American crows in shape and size are impossible to spot in the field. Voice, usually a giant obstacle for me, is the key.

Fortunately it's easy to tell apart the well-known "caw" of the common American crow and the quacky croak of a fish crow. Many thanks to the red-winged blackbirds for harassing the crows into breaking their silence.


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