Carolyn Gritzmaker Indian Trail Master Naturalist
We went on a short birding trip the other day, my husband, our dog, and I. Just as far as the old cemetery on the hill, to see what birds were about. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place with tall trees, and a creek running along the north edge, an old pasture to the south and always a good place to see birds.
On this day we first saw an Eastern Phoebev(Sayornis phoebe) as it twitched its tail and flew from tree to tree in search of food. A Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) sat on a limb overhanging the creek. It was a female; she had the rusty band across her breast. Presently she dived into a pool and came up with a small fish. She flew to a nearby branch, shook the fish a couple of times and swallowed it.
The trees overhead were alive with little “chip” calls of the Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata), once called the Myrtle Warbler. There were at least five or six of these little birds, flitting here and there; flashes of black, white and yellow.
A Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) sang in the brush off to the north of the creek. Not the usual “tea kettle” song, but more along the lines of “sugary, sugary, sugary”. A beautiful, fluid song and always a pleasure to hear.
There were several flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) feeding in the short grass. They are little gray birds, and have white feathers on either side of their tails that flash when they fly. A pair of common Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) were feeding in the grass, too. And several American Robins (Turdus migratorius) were running here and there, pausing to cock their heads before pouncing on a worm or an insect. I’ve often wondered: do the robins actually hear the worms under the ground, or do they see them as they come to the surface?
Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) were in the trees, and bluebirds(Sialia sialis) on the fence. Back in the tall trees to the northeast we heard a Red-shouldered Hawk’s(Buteo lineatus) call:”kee-ah, kee-ah kee-ah”. A pair of Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) worked along some tree trunks and a Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) called nearby. The Carolina Chickadees (Parus carolinensis) and Tufted Titmice (Parus bicolor) were quiet this day. Not a bad list for an hour’s relaxed birding. It was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon.