Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cold and Rainy, But Lots of Birds!

This past Saturday was chilly and gray and rainy, and I did a dance with the weather for much of the day -- I kept trying to go outside, and then the rain would push me back inside. But I saw so many creatures in the time I was outside. Lots of birds that I hadn't seen yet this year are now back in the area, and they were out despite the wet weather, so I needed to be out there, too!

On Saturday morning, I drove out to a nearby park, and on my way home (after the rain sent me back to my car), I stopped to admire a bunch of swallows gathering on a fence next to the road. Tree Swallows are always beautiful, even in the rain:

I'm not used to seeing Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows hanging out in the same spot like this:

The birds seemed to be taking the rain as a bathing opportunity. Shake off those raindrops, little bird:

When I got home, the rain let up again for a bit, so I wandered outside near our house, where fields of bright yellow flowers make for quite a dramatic landscape, especially below heavy clouds and mist:

I'm guessing these yellow flowers are some sort of mustard, and the Red-winged Blackbirds at least seem to be making good use of them. I saw several male Red-winged Blackbirds displaying in parts of the field, and this female was picking up what looks like nesting material from among the yellow flowers:

So many birds in the area were taking advantage of the halt in the rain to move around. Every few minutes, I'd look up and see a different bird passing by overhead -- a heron, various hawks, vultures, ducks.... An Osprey circled over our neighborhood a couple of times, perhaps eyeing the ponds:

Even a Common Loon flew by at one point, heading toward the nearest Finger Lake, I'm guessing. I'm amazed that this creature could fly with all those damaged feathers on its left wing (and now I know that loons trail their big feet behind them when they fly, how cool):

Lots of birds were moving around in the trees next to the fields, including my first Baltimore Orioles of the year. This handsome male oriole had an especially brilliant breast that was almost red in places. What a sight on a gray day!

I was very excited to see a male Bobolink, too, who was singing his weird robot-song and snacking on flower petals. I've only seen Bobolinks twice before, and that was a few years ago, all the way back at the Connecticut shore. It's so cool to have these funny meadow-dwelling birds nearby:

A few White-crowned Sparrows have been hanging around our yard for the past week or so, and one fellow in particular frequently takes up a post in the blossoming apple tree outside our window to sing. White-crowned Sparrows only pass through this area during migration, and I'm glad to have these pretty birds as neighbors at least for a little while. Here's a picture of our apple-tree-songster from inside the house on this rainy day:

At this point in my life, the place where I've heard White-crowned Sparrows singing the most was at the coastal dunes in Humboldt County, CA (since these birds breed there). It's been very strange to hear those dune sounds again here in rainy, lush, springtime Central New York! Best wishes on the rest of your journey, little sparrow, when you do decide to move on; and thanks for stopping here for a few days:

A Green Frog was also out and about on this rainy Saturday, settled nicely in a puddle next to a field:

Hooray for spring, when even rainy days are exciting and full of things to see!


  1. Another enjoyable post, Elizabeth. Barn swallows are among my favourites but are increasingly scarce here (Ottawa, Ontario) these past years. The white-crowned sparrow looks particularly sweet among the blossoms.