Meanwhile at Home

Meanwhile at Home

Not all the birding can be at exciting locales like Manasquan or Barnegat. Much of the birding takes place much closer to home – or rather, AT home. Our yard has been a fun place for birding for years, and every once in a while something really interesting pops up – like the Dickcissel back in 2011 or the Veery that visited last summer.

Day 1 brought me 33 species at the feeders and surrounding area, most common species except for a surprise Pine Siskin. It was a bit of time before some other new birds appeared. A Yellow-billed Sapsucker graced our hemlock for a few minutes, checking the holes made in previous years by other sapsuckers.

On the morning of the 13th, I woke up early to get a run in before a long day at work. Getting dressed in the living room, I heard an at-first quiet coo, then a louder hoot. Could it be? “Hoo-hoo-HOO!” came the call, definitely the sound of a Great Horned Owl. But better yet was the responding call, a larger and stronger call from another owl. Then I saw them, a pair flying into the huge oak across the street, calling from nearby branches.

A week later, I went on the search for a mega-rarity being seen in Philadelphia. I started out on a run along the famed Kelly Drive, scanning the Schuykill River as I ran for hints of this rare goose. I spied several possible subjects, only to be disappointed each time (as I was, sadly, to strike out entirely for the day). I was, however, treated to my first-of-year Common Merganser. A trio of them – the broad white sides and deep green heads of the male and a pair of the white and gray females blithely swimming down the river.

Lastly, I was treated to something of a seasonal rarity from the backyard on the morning of the 24th. I heard the raspy call and it caught my attention – the distinct call of the Fish Crow, which I’m not used to being around in the winter in central NJ. But there was no mistaking it – in fact, a pair were calling as they flew over the yard, #102 for the year.

921/10Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
931/13Great Horned Owl
1011/18Common Merganser
1021/24Fish Crow

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