Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Six new walking BIGBY species

Birded the Indiana University cross country course yesterday afternoon after the rains, and this AM. Pretty much perfect birding weather, with six new first of year (FOY) and BIGBY birds.

Some highlights, starting with the FOY/BIGBY birds:

* Grasshopper Sparrow (4/27) - BIGBY species #117 for the year. I was looking for possible Field Sparrow nest sites when the GRSP flew into view and briefly sang his odd little song.
* Baltimore Oriole( 4/28) - BIGBY #118 for 2010. Four of them, in the usual spot...northwest corner of northern section of XC course, near a tee on the IU golf course. When I run into them on the XC course, they are almost always in this general location. Beautiful birds, and I love their lilting songs, and the way the songs contrast with their harsh calls.
* Common Nighthawk (4/28) - BIGBY #119. Foraging over the par 3 section of the IU golf course. I thought it seemed kinda early, but I checked Brock and the arrival date for this species for southern Indiana was this past Monday.
* Scarlet Tanager (4/28) - BIGBY #120. Calling from the woods to the north of the XC course.
* Great Crested Flycatcher (4/28) - BIGBY #121. In the area where I usually see them...along the edge of the woods...area is mostly a stand of young tulip poplars.
* Blackburnian Warbler (4/28) - BIGBY #122. In the woods to the north of the XC course.
* Bald Eagle - Adult. High off to the northeast, in the general direction of Lake Lemon. Not an FOY, but a cool bird nonetheless.
* Chipping Sparrow - 70+, in numerous small flocks, on 4/27. Numbers were back to normal today (4/28).
Prairie Warbler - Has been singing in same spot every day for one week now (see the green marker on this map: for location). Since it looks like Prairie Warbler habitat (cedars, pines, scrub) I'm thinking they might nest there.
* Field Sparrow - Speaking of nesting, it looks like there may be at least two Field Sparrow nests in the grass in the south section of the XC course. I've observed birds come up out of the grass there this week, and the sites match the BNA Online description of FISP nesting sites. The cool thing is that this is the first time I've seen FISPs nesting in the grass on the XC course since IU adopted its no-mow policy!!
* Had my first XC course "three swallow day" of the year on 4/27 - Tree Swallow (10), Northern Rough-winged Swallow (2), Barn Swallow (2)
* Saw a Cooper's take a female Cowbird on 4/27. Sure, Cooper's kill songbirds, but I guess every now and then they help them out by taking out a cowbird. :-)
* There's been a small flock of White-throated Sparrows hanging out in the brush for about a week. Saturday was a very gray morning. I was back in the woods when about 15 WTSPs slowly came through, serenading me. The fresh damp air, dim light, bright green new leaves, and the melancholy songs of the sparrows made for a neat experience.

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