Spring Brings Special Sightings
|Debbie Becker leads a free bird walk at the Garden every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., beginning at the Reflecting Pool in the Leon Levy Visitor Center. The last one for the season will be June 27.
Three fuzzy heads can be seen bobbing up and down in the red-tailed hawk nest. Just like Central Park’s Pale Male and Lola, our red-tails have made a neat little “cliffside” home at the top of a structure—in this case the Library building. It is interesting to watch mom and pop fly in with food to feed the babies. The hawks’ diet consists mainly of small mammals (such as squirrels and chipmunks) and birds, keeping the balance of nature in check. The female red-tail seems to find mockingbirds a special treat and has resorted to robbing mockingbird nests. Recently, we saw the red-tail perched atop the Watson Building with a baby mockingbird in her talons and mother mocker desperately trying to get mother hawk to free her prey. The mocker aggressively attacked the hawk, but in the end the hawk had a meal for her babies and the mocker went home to an empty nest. It is the circle of life.
While searching for warblers in the Forest we were treated to a very rare sight at this time of year: Our well-hidden female great horned owl flew from her perch followed by her fledgling. We were able to follow the mature owl to a new perch but lost the young owl in the leaves. As we watched the mom settle in, she kept looking around for her baby. Suddenly she looked forward and began to hoot. Then she turned her head right and hooted and then left and hooted. I guess she heard the young owl reply, because she closed her eyes and seemingly went to sleep.
As the warbler numbers begin to dwindle, the birds having moved on to northern climes, we are grateful for another wonderful migration. Most of us were treated to the sightings of warblers such as black-throated blue, black-throated green, northern parula, Tennessee, chestnut-sided, bay-breasted, American redstart, common yellowthroat, yellow, prothonotary, and ovenbird. We also had warbling, red-eyed, and blue-headed vireos and a long list of other spectacular birds: Baltimore oriole, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, wood thrush, veery, hermit thrush, gray catbird, brown creeper, house wren, rough-winged swallow, bank swallow, tree swallow, chimney swift, eastern kingbird, great blue heron, great egret, night-heron, green heron (in full breeding plumage, see above photo, courtesy Debbie Becker), cormorant, wood duck (adults with 11 babies), mallard (adults with 12 babies) indigo bunting, cedar waxwing, savannah sparrow, ruby-throated hummingbird, eastern towhee, and northern flicker. read more »