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Friday, November 12, 2010

Bluebird Days

I went into Green-Wood Cemetery late in the day. Great Horned Owls begin courtship in the winter, so Marge and I are keeping tabs on our resident pair. We were planning on staying late to find out if they'd begun calling yet. However, sometimes nature has a habit of presenting alternate plans, whether we like it or not.

I got to the cemetery earlier than Marge and had time to wander around a bit. Near "Boss" Tweed's family plot I stumbled on a pair of Eastern Bluebirds. They were alternately perching on headstones and street signs, then diving down into the grass to catch insects. A short distance away, near the "Rock Pile", is a stretch of sweetgum trees. American Goldfinches were landing at the tops of the sweetgums and prying the tiny seeds from the tree's spiky fruit. My first American Tree Sparrow of the season was nibbling on the tops of some type of dried wildflower below the trees. Several Pine Siskins revealed themselves within the goldfinch flocks with their raspy "zreeeeeeet" calls .

I met Marge near the Valentine Angel and we walked the Flatlands of the cemetery. It was getting late and the bright, winter sun was casting long shadows across the grass fields. As we walked down Cypress Avenue, towards her car, I heard a bluebird call. Then I heard another. On the south side of the road I spotted a pair of Eastern Bluebirds. Another one flew across the road in front of us. Then another. Then three more. After a quick scan, we realized that there were more than just a few bluebirds and, in fact, there was a whole flock of them. I positioned myself behind a tall, granite headstone, using it as a blind, so I could get close to the birds. Some were perched on top of carved, stone obelisks; some in azalea shrubs; a few in a dogwood tree; one was even perched a foot above the ground atop a small American flag that had been placed at a gravesite. Most of the birds were making occasional, soft whistles as they fed within the grass or in shrubs . At one point they all seemed to lift up in unison and fly back across the road. They attacked a large yew shrub, snatching the plant's juicy, red fruit. I counted thirteen individuals in the flock. Marge and I were right in the middle as they continued moving back and forth across the road, alternating between foraging in the grass and filling up on yew berries. Then, as quickly as it began, it ended. A few birds called loudly and they flew up into the bare branches of a tall maple tree at the intersection of Cypress Avenue and Grape Avenue. They sat in the tree for a moment, then took off, flying deeper into the cemetery.

Here's a short video of some of the flock:

1 comment:

Yojimbot said...

Awesome, I love me some bluebirds!

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