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Ranger Stuff - birds!

On 04/07/2015 at 08:33 PM by Ranger1

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It's been a busy first week back at the park, but nearly as busy as it will be as soon as the snow melts. Mostly I'm putting signs back up that fell over during the winter and picking up the litter that's emerging as the snow melts. But I also get to do a lot of nature observation while I'm doing that, which is pretty darn awesome, if you ask me.

Because winter is hanging on forever up here this year, I'm seeing more migratory ducks and other water birds than usual. They can't go inland yet, as many of the lakes are still frozen over. So that means they're still hanging out in the bay at work. We've got common eiders, common goldeneyes, common mergansers, buffleheads, and common loons (not a duck!) on the bay, and the osprey are nesting on the island. I also saw a golden-crowned kinglet this afternoon, which was pretty cool, because they're so tiny and usually so well-hidden. I think that may be the only one I've ever seen close enough to actually identify as being a golden-crowned kinglet.

At home, I've got American robins, Northern cardinals, black-capped chickadees (the Maine State bird, by the way), dark-eyed juncos, tufted titmice, and American woodcocks. Most of them are kind of ho-hum, seen 'em a million times before, but the woodcocks are really cool. They are mainly nocturnal, and this is the time of year when the males start courting the females. They have this elaborate courtship routine called skydancing, where he flies up to 250-300 feet in a wide spiral, and then zigzags down to the ground. His wings make a fluttering noise on the way up and on the way down. When he reaches the ground, he makes this buzzy "peent, peent" sound, which he continues until his next flight up. I woke up to one peenting outside my window this morning, and they're at it again this evening. I got outside before it got too dark and got to watch one for a while until I got cold and came back in.

I've included links to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds website for pics and info for all of the birds, and I found a decent video on YouTube of the woodcock's courtship dance. The Cornell site is really cool, it's got the ID stuff, as well as sound recordings and video for all North American birds. You can also download plans for a wide variety of birdhouses for free, too.




04/08/2015 at 01:31 AM

It's time to make whoopie for the birds. Those nests gotta get made and the eggs hatched before next winter. I think that's how it is anyway. 

The Cornel Lab site is really cool.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

04/08/2015 at 05:27 AM

I like birds.  I think about bird "language" and civilization a lot when I sit out back.  Lot of ravens this year.  


04/08/2015 at 10:46 AM

Oh nice, you have a lot of interesting and different species roaming around your area. The only birds I see a lot of here are hummingbirds and the crazy neighbors (ducks).

That American Woodcock is an interesting little guy.  

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/08/2015 at 11:04 AM

Oh to have a job outdoors ... 


04/11/2015 at 10:57 AM

I love the Cornell website. I usually forget it exists unless I'm doing the winter bird count. =/ I need to remember to use it more often.

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