Thursday, July 2, 2015

June Birding with Noah - Ridgefield Rec Center

We tried an earlier morning (7 a.m.) start time and the birds were definitely much more active, for as soon as we entered the woodlands off of the parking lot at the Rec Center, the bird calls began.  Of much interest was a warbling vireo which had a nest high up in an aspen tree.  Although they are a rather drab bird with grey up on top and white belly washed with a faint yellow, their warbling song is beautiful to hear.  They forage high in the tree tops, eating caterpillars and other insects.  Brown-headed cowbirds will often lay their eggs in the vireo’s rounded hanging nests.  Because they are “brood parasites”, cowbirds make no nests of their own and rely on other bird species to raise their young.  Also, spotted were gray catbirds.  Related to mockingbirds, they also have the ability to mimic the calls of other birds, as well as producing their own distinctive “mewing” sound which gives them their name.  We had a nice view of some cedar waxwings, with their black masks and slicked back crests.  The red tips on their wing feathers and the yellow tip on the tail were not easy to see.  Robins, common grackles, mourning doves, yellow warblers and phoebes also were present along the wooded trails.  But the big excitement was over at the Norwalk River that runs behind the Rec Center.  There we spotted a family of wood ducks. A female with nine babies trailing behind her was swimming apart from the Canada geese.  Wood ducks will often lay their eggs in other wood duck nests, to be raised by other females, another example of brood parasitism.  Nearby, a great blue heron (picture) posed for a very long time for us and we got many good pictures of this statuesque bird with blue-grey plumage that was standing quite still hunting for fish.  Some of the swallow boxes placed along the river trail were occupied and we watched a mother tree swallow hard at work feeding insects to her hungry, noisy babies. Picture:  Michael Kralik taken on the hike - June 13, 2015