Species Parade, Week Four

In my twenties, I worked for two summers as a field researcher in Michigan and North Carolina. My job was studying Indigo Buntings, finding their nests, catching and banding the adults, as well as the young.

aaBuntings like to nest in secondary growth – tall grass, brambles, prickly shrubs. Their nests are hard to find if you’re just using your eyes.

But if you use your ears and knowledge of bird behavior, the job becomes much easier. Birds get upset when you’re near their nests. Depending on the species, they made chirp wildly, flit about, or get downright aggressive (Gulls will dive bomb and poop on you).

Paying attention to bird behavior is how I stumbled upon this fantastic Cooper’s hawk and her nest full of babies. I noticed her because of the cacophony of smaller birds, upset by her presence. She was perched above the trail, examining me, and did not take flight as raptors usually do. That was the tip off.

I looked around. Deep in the scrub oak, twenty feet off the ground, sat her nest. A nestling looked back at me, then another.

I was reminded again that the key to winning the wilderness lottery (seeing stuff, having cool moments) means following the ‘Can’t win if you don’t play’ mantra. It’s directly proportional to the amount of time you spend out there and the attention you bring to it.

aaaForty species this week.

Follow our weekly updates to appreciate the outstanding opportunities for wildlife spotting ‘round these parts! Sign up for our newsletter.

Mammals:

Black Tailed Jackrabbit

Cottontail Rabbit

Mule Deer

Coyote

Rock Squirrel

Yellow bellied Marmot

Birds:

House finch

aTufted Titmouse

Black Capped Chickadee

Goldfinch

Bushtit

Red-Tailed Hawk

Common Raven

Scrub Jay

Magpie

Turkey

Dark-Eyed Junco

aaaaRinged Turtle Dove

Rock Dove

Catbird

Red winged Blackbird

Western Kingbird

Lesser Goldfinch

Mountain Bluebird

Meadowlark

Rufous-sided Towhee

Broad Tailed Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Chipping sparrow

California Quail

House wren

American Kestrel

Turkey Vulture

Common Poor Will

Common Nighthawk

Great Horned Owl

Killdeer

Starling

American Robin

Cooper’s Hawk