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-Tue, Mar 23 2023-
The first dawn of spring and the last dawn of winter: the only back-to-back days so far this year with the same weather. Both cloudless, starting in the mid-twenties.
The only notable event happens in the gloom at 6:38 AM as I am settling on the balcony and the first Song Sparrow sings. The American Robins have already been at it for quite some time. A large bird flushes from a low tree at the mouth of Bald Eagle Creek in front of me, back toward taller trees by the interstate. It scatters smaller birds, particular a few robins, and seems to make some sort of chittering noise, though that could be a squirrel as well. It all happens too fast for my binoculars, and I am left with the impression of reddish or brownish plumage. The robins go berserk for the next five minutes or more, pulling every alarm call out of their repertoire. The Song Sparrows sing on and on, seeming not to notice the disruption.
It might have been a Cooper’s Hawk. I haven’t seen our local one in a while and it seems a bit early in the day for an Accipiter to be on the hunt; perhaps, instead, it was an Eastern Screech-Owl. I’ve never heard or seen one from here, but they are the only one of our owls that can be found more or less regularly along the local stretch of the Little Juniata River (in any case, it was too small to be a Barred or a Great Horned).
Choral songs and calls add up slowly to 26 species by 7:29 AM when Rock Pigeons first lift off and the Downy Woodpecker calls. Turkey Vultures are out early today, with the first at 7:26 and 23 to follow over the course of ten minutes. The four common waterfowl are all in evidence: some Canada Geese, a pair each of Common Mergansers and Wood Ducks, and three Mallards.
NFC Spotlight: Song Sparrow
Here is the link to the NFC checklists. There has been little activity of late, due to frigid north and west winds.
The tseeps of two or three night-flying Song Sparrows are here. While locals of this species also tseep when flying about at dawn and dusk, the night calls are distinct. For one, they are emitted at 12:28 AM, hours from any other bird calls. And, the sound quality is quite clear against a soundless background, indicating they were flying overhead. Local calls from close to the ground are often ‘messy,’ obscured by vegetation or other obstacles. Here they are again, magnified:
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