Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Dan and Beth Go Birding In Luria Park: Early Spring Migration

Well, like the rest of the world, we are anxious for this "new normal" to end. However, no one knows exactly when that will happen. What Dan and I do know is that mid-April to Mid-May is a great time for birding in the Washington DC area. Parks are closed including many of the local birding hot spots. Many more people than usual are out and about and sometimes it makes social distancing a challenge. What we have learned that if we want to bird in Luria Park is to go into the woods. The appropriate footwear and longs pants are a must. Tick season coincides with spring migration, and the spring rains can make for a muddy trek.

Our local "pocket" park has a nice mixture of trees. Ironwood trees with their low canopy (about ten feet max) beneath the towering oaks and tulip poplars are a draw for different migratory songbirds.

Today we saw our first of year Black-and-white Warbler.  These migratory birds live up to their name with their distinctive striped plumage. Easy to spot as they hop along branches, gleaning insects and larvae from the undersides of leaves.

We also saw Palm Warblers, a nice little flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers, and White-eyed Vireo. The breezy conditions make for challenging birding, but we were delighted to see these other early spring migratory birds.

Another bird that is actually leaving our patch of woods to northern breeding grounds, is the Hermit Thrush.
This large-eyed cousin to the American Robin skulked along the forest floor, searching leaf litter and rotting logs for tasty treats. The bird gave us some great views as it perched on a log or mossy hillock.

Like the Hermit Thrush, the Swamp Sparrow prefers to breed a little farther north, and despite that we were delighted to see one picking at the muddy bank of the creek and fallen branches in the water.

These striking birds nest in wetlands. While not a threatened species, the decline of wetland habitat bears concern for the future of these sparrows.

Speaking of sparrows, we saw a flock of the tiny Chipping Sparrows picking up nearly microscopic bits of seeds from the asphalt path that rings the park's grassy field. Happy kids enjoying the sunshine and riding their bikes and scooters scared the flock into the river birches where I got this shot.

Today we continued to see the Eastern Phoebe, where about a week ago we observed it building a nest under the pedestrian bridge over the creek. Today one of the two birds we've counted gave us a very cute pose in the vicinity of the bridge. With all of the people walking over it, we hope the birds keep to their hidden nest and raise young there.

Once home, a shadow passing the bedroom window caught my eye. A male Pileated Woodpecker soared from the vicinity of the suet feeder to an oak in the backyard. He checked out a cavity in the tree before moving on. I managed to get a portrait close up of him before he soared away. I love to watch these big woodpeckers fly!
Happy Spring!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Hooded Mergansers at Fairview Park

If you drive along Fairview Park or Jaguar Trail and see the various ponds in the area you may see birds that are not Canada Geese on the water. These smaller waterfowl are most likely male and female Hooded Mergansers. They are small ducks with slender upward curving bills. The male has a bold black and white crest; the female has a crest that looks like a messy hair-do. Recently we saw a pair swimming in the pond on Fairview Park near the Marriott. The male raised his crest as we approached the edge of the pond. We stopped our approach and the crest was lowered. These are wonderful binds. Some find a place to breed here in eastern Virginia, and some continue migrating farther north.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Seven Years and Lots of Birds!


For the past seven years, Dan and I have birded our wonderful neighborhoods of Raymondale and Holmes Run Acres and the surrounding woodlands: Luria Park, Providence Rec Center woods, and Fairview Park. These places have given us great views of over 100 different birds. Some are year round residents, some are summer or winter residents, and a great number are migratory birds passing through pausing long enough to take advantage of the green spaces, ponds and streams in and surrounding our neighborhoods. 

(Black-throated Blue Warbler (13 May, near Providence Rec, Center)

We have photographed and recorded the birds we have seen over seven years. Our photos of the local birds number in the hundreds to a thousand. We feel truly blessed to have so many birds residing or visiting our parklands/woods that only requires us to walk less than two miles to experience it from end to end.

(Brown Creeper, 21 March, in Luria Park woods)

Each outing during spring and fall migration season gives us heightened expectation to add yet another bird to the list posted below.  It is an incredible gift that our little parcel of green inside the Beltway is attractive to over 100 diverse bird species. 

(Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 3 May, Luria Park)

These green spaces are so valuable to birds. By a wide margin the greatest threat to birds, especially migratory birds, is habitat loss. Imagine you are a tiny warbler migrating northward in spring along the US east coast, the Atlantic flyway, and you look down and see rooftops, asphalt and concrete. You desperately need a rest, an insect buffet, and a drink of water. Then you see tree tops and the sun or full moon glinting off of a trickling stream or small pond. That is as welcome to a tired migratory songbird as a "Vacancy" sign is to a weary interstate traveler. Luria Park along Holmes Run to the Fairview Park ponds offers that critical respite to many a migratory bird along the Atlantic coast super migration highway.

(Spotted Sandpiper, 13 May, Fairview Park small pond)

 We encourage you to get out there with binoculars and see what is hiding in plan sight in our woods and backyards. Here is a checklist of what we've seen to get you started. And you may very well, and we hope you do, find one that is not on this list that we've taken seven years to compile. Let us know and happy birding!~~Dan and Beth Fedorko

(Red-winged Blackbird, 13 May, Fairview Park small pond)

 Checklist of Birds Observed in Raymondale, Holmes Run Acres, Luria Park, Providence Rec Center woods, and Fairview Park:
___Downy Woodpecker
___Hairy Woodpecker
___Red-bellied Woodpecker
___Red-headed Woodpecker
___Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
___Pileated Woodpecker
___Northern Flicker
___Mississippi Kite
___Red-shouldered Hawk
___Red-tailed Hawk
___Cooper’s Hawk
___American Kestral
___Barred Owl
___Black Vulture
___Turkey Vulture
___Bald Eagle
___Wood Duck
___Great Blue Heron
___Green Heron
___Double-crested Cormorant
___Yellow-crowned Night Heron
___Black-crowned Night Heron
___Spotted Sandpiper
___Canada Goose
___Belted Kingfisher
___Black-throated Green Warbler
___Black and White Warbler
___Blackpoll Warbler
___Yellow-rumped Warbler
___Canada Warbler
___Prairie Warbler
___Yellow Warbler
___Black-throated Blue Warbler
___Blue-winged Warbler
___Cape May Warbler
___Common Yellowthroat
___White-eyed Vireo
___Red-eyed Vireo
___Blue-headed Vireo
___American Redstart
___Magnolia Warbler
___Pine Warbler
___Northern Parula
___Palm Warbler
___Blackburnian Warbler
___Bay-breasted Warbler
___Yellow-breasted Chat
___Blue Jay
___American Crow
___Common Grackle
___European Starling
___Red-winged Blackbird
___Rusty Blackbird
___Northern Mockingbird
___Brown-headed Cowbird
___Gray Catbird
___American Robin
___Hermit Thrush
___Louisiana Waterthrush
___Northern Waterthrush
___Brown Thrasher
___Wild Turkey
___Swainsons Thrush
___Wood Thrush
___Northern Cardinal
___American Goldfinch
___Blue Grosbeak
___Rose-breasted Grosbeak
___Purple Finch
___House Finch
___Tufted Titmouse
___Cedar Waxwing
___Pine Siskin
___Carolina Chickadee
___Mourning Dove
___Carolina Wren
___Winter Wren
___House Wren
___White-breasted Nuthatch
___Red-breasted Nuthatch
___Eastern Bluebird
___Tree Swallow
___Eastern Phoebe
___Dark-eyed Junco
___Brown Creeper
___Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
___Ruby-crowned Kinglet
___Golden-crowned Kinglet
___Great Crested Flycatcher
___Eastern Wood-pewee
___Chimney Swift
___Scarlet Tanager
___Indigo Bunting
___Baltimore Oriole
___Yellow-billed Cuckoo
___Swamp Sparrow
___Field Sparrow
___Song Sparrow
___House Sparrow
___Chipping Sparrow
___Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Early Spring Migrants

Hello and Happy Spring!~~

Raymondale and especially Luria Park near the main bridge and the chain link fence around the old baseball diamond has had a lovely assortment of early spring migratory songbirds. grab your binoculars and take a look!

You may find...

 This tiny active bird is the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  The bird was foraging for insects on bare branches over the smaller bridge.

 This yellow-hued bird with white wing bars is the Pine Warbler. Wintering in the US south it's one of our earliest warbler migrants.

 This yellow bird with the rusty patch on top of it's head is the Palm Warbler. Seen bobbing it's tail and flitting from the trees to the ground around the chain link fence.

This bird is the Eastern Phoebe. It's about the size of a Northern Cardinal and like the Palm Warbler it pumps its tail when perched and alert. Seen in the trees along the larger bridge and along the chain link fence. It flies out usually from the same branch/perch catching insects. And speaking of catching insects...

This Ruby-crowned Kinglet (the ruby crown in a few tiny feathers on top of the head rarely seen) was seen in low-growth around the creek catching a tasty insect. These birds are winter residents (like some of the migratory warblers and insect eaters) and are heading far north into Canada to breed.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Love and War Luria Park

Love and disputes were in the air in Luria Park!

Two male Hairy Woodpeckers vying for territory. Beaks raised, stalking each other, and fanned tail feathers signal territorial dispute.

A female Pileated Woodpecker foraging rotted logs with her mate close by.

One of two Mourning Doves resting after courtship. Spring is here for sure!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Pine Siskins

We have two tube shaped thistle seed feeders in our backyard and this week we have noticed flocks of Pine Siskins at the feeders. These sparrow-sized birds with a swath of bright yellow on their wings breed in Canada but spend their winters in our area. They do like to eat seeds from pine cones but will readily eat thistle seed from feeders.

We observed the siskins battling with House Finches and Goldfinches for the thistle seed we offered. At first glance you may think you are observing House Sparrows but looks closer for that swath of yellow on the males. Both male and female Pine Siskin have lots of stripes all over. The females don't have the yellow on their wings.

So hang up your thistle seed feeder and attract our wintering birds!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Winter Is Coming

It's been a while since I've posted on this bird blog but that doesn't mean the birds haven't been doing their birdy thing!
This last week in October, has Luria Park and our own backyard full of migratory birds heading to warmer winter climates and some birds arriving to stay here for the winter. We have several birds in Luria Park and Raymondale that leave their breeding grounds in Canada and seek refuge during the  fall and winter months here. Here are some birds we saw on October 31st.

The White-throated Sparrow is one of the most notable winter residents. The male has a distinctive white throat and bright yellow lores above the beak. You can hear his sweet song in the park, a high pitched song that sounds aptly enough like "Oh, Canada, Canada!"

The Chipping Sparrow, above, may breed in our area but this fellow is seeking a warmer place to spend the winter.

This bright bird, a little smaller than a Robin, is the Yellow-breasted Chat. He was spotted just off the boardwalk skulking through the low underbrush and occasionally flying to a higher perch. An uncommon bird and a loner, this bird will migrate to a more southerly location for the winter.

This tiny bird, the Golden-crowned Kinglet, will spend its winter in our area after spending an active summer breeding in Canada. They are quite tiny and active. With binoculars you can easily spot the bright yellow stripe between dark stripes on top of its head.

At our feeder today we saw a Pine Siskin. These sparrow-like birds with sharp beaks and lots of stripes, may spend their winter here or farther south. You will most commonly see them at your feeders.

So get those sunflower seeds, thistle seeds, and suet out. Who know what you may see this fall and winter?