American Woodcock Display – Pine Siskin Flock – Eastern Towhee – Vesper Sparrow – Kinglets Galore – White-Winged Scoter – Flocks of Common Loon
Peent… Peent… Peent... I cannot begin to tell you just how much I love the American Woodcock call. Thanks to the patience and courtesy of longtime neighbors of Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, I had an outstanding experience at the Point last night: I observed the peenting mating display of the American Woodcock (sometimes called a Timber Doodle [which makes their young doodlings. You read that right — doodlings.]) At dusk, we went out and hid in the brush. Once the woodcock began to peent, we waited to hear the shorebird begin its aerial display before rushing to the next clump of trees and quietly hunkering down. We repeated this routine a few times until we were close enough to see the bird in the remaining daylight. On the woodcock’s last foray into the air, we saw another bird fly in — likely what followed will result in the next generation of woodcocks.
Outside of the presence of the American Woodcock at Whitefish Point, there have not been too many other bird species to note moving in. I did see what I believe was a Long-Eared Owl fly in front of my car upon returning to the field house last night. Dark-Eyed Junco moved through in huge numbers over the past week with the sparrow present nearly everywhere in the woods but are now waning slightly. Fox Sparrow have a short migration window and were only present in larger numbers for two days last week with not more than six observed over the past few days.
A nice flock of six Pine Siskin, the largest observed this season, flew over the Owl’s Roost on the morning of April 30. Winter finches this year, with the exception of Common Redpoll, have been few and far between. Humans are apt to say it’s a “bad finch year” or “it’s a bad grosbeak year” when fewer of these birds move southward in winter than we are used to or like seeing. However, when you think about it, it’s probably a good year for the birds themselves — they are not having to undertake taxing migration due to food shortages or extreme weather in their northern habitat. So while it’s sad for us humans not to see beautiful northern birds in good numbers, remember it very well might be better for the birds.
Over Spring Fling weekend, Golden-Crowned Kinglet and, to a lesser extent, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet seemed to be everywhere, calling and flitting about the pines and shrubbery. Golden-crowned now seem to be past peak while ruby-crowned have yet to reach the same. Brown Creeper are present in good numbers, and Winter Wren are definitely increasing alongside Black-Capped Chickadee.
On Monday, April 29, Alison Vilag, WPBO Waterbird Counter, and I saw the first White-winged Scoter, which had both of us absolutely jazzed, and flocks of Common Loon. A flock of over 10 flew right over the waterbird shack (with 202 total counted that day, the largest count yet). I didn’t even know that Common Loon could flock together, so this was amazing to witness in person.
Thank you, everyone, who came out for Spring Fling this past weekend! It was a joy to meet many of you and see lots of neat birds with you as well.
– Charlotte R. Catalano, WPBO Field Ornithologist
Featured Image: A Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) perched briefly on Pussy Willow (Salix discolor), a North American native shrub. Photo by Charlotte R. Catalano