Birding and Bull-rushes

by Kenneth Gingerich, 11 | Feb 1, 2022 | 0 comments

Hooded Warbler. Artwork © Kenneth Gingerich.

The sun had not yet risen when my brother Jesse and I neared the circle. Suddenly a Green Heron flew out of the cattails. Desperately we ran with long strides toward our circle. It was a hopeless case, but we could try. It gave us our morning exercise.

As soon as I jumped into the circle, an Eastern Wood Pewee gave its slurred song. Our first bird soon found its name on our list! The woods were full of bird songs, and we couldn’t keep up with all of them. Gray Catbirds, Northern Cardinals, Song Sparrows, and other common birds had the area ringing, along with a few unfamiliar voices.

The warbler flock started with one male Hooded Warbler in breeding plumage. I can barely remember what happened after that, as warblers were pouring all over the place. Common Yellowthroats, American Redstarts, Magnolia Warblers, and a couple more warblers found their place on the list. There were so many birds that we kept getting distracted, changing from bird to bird, which resulted in a lot of unidentified birds. I caught a glimpse of a bird above my head, but again, it made off unidentified. Could it have been a Yellow-throated Warbler? Who knows? I can’t tell you!

In the middle of the rush there came some uninvited guests that changed the whole day. I was looking into a tree with an extra number of warblers in it. When the warbler flew, I lowered my binoculars. Suddenly something moving in the corner of my eye caught my attention. Around the hill came one of the biggest bulls I have ever seen. Along with it was a calf.

I grabbed Jesse, and we backed into the woods, popping the underbrush as we went. We debated climbing onto the tree stand, but it was only around four feet high, so we decided against it. The only option was the neighbors, so we went. We dared not run for fear the bull would charge, but as soon as we reached the neighbors’ yard, we gave it all we had! We knocked on the door, and almost immediately their two youngest boys were opening the door. I pointed toward the trail where the bull and calf were still coming.

After the bull was safely in the stall, the boys—Kevin, 12, and Jeffery, 8,—went with us. They are also subscribers to Nature Friend so they could also help with the contest.

A few warblers were still around when we came back, and we promptly saw Bay-breasted and Black-throated Green Warblers.

As soon as we found a wild cherry tree, we started getting more birds. The warblers were starting to shut down for the morning, and we blamed it on the bull, but there were still a fair number in the cherry tree.

We were interrupted again—this time when my other brother Logan brought a picnic lunch. Kevin and Jeffery went back to ask if they could bring theirs too, and we were glad when they came with their own lunches.

After lunch we roamed out of the circle and pestered a hornet nest. I was not at all impressed when a Green Heron flew out of the swamp while I was out of the circle.

When we went back to the cherry tree, we found it full of birds. There were a couple of Bay-breasted Warblers and one Cape May Warbler, which was a new one for the list.

We sat in the field, hoping to get some fly-over birds. Turkey Vultures and Cedar Waxwings were flying around, which added to our list. We were aware of our House Sparrow miss and decided that if we would look through binoculars at our barn, we might be able to see a couple. Sure enough! A flock of sparrows was fighting near the barn and flew over to a hedge.

A couple of sandpipers gave their calls, but I never did figure out if they were Spotted or Solitary Sandpipers.

Sadly, we had to go home for supper. Promptly after supper we went out again, hoping to get some owls. A Chimney Swift flew over. As soon as it got dark, we started hearing owl-like sounds. The only owl we did identify, though, was a Screech-Owl.

We had an unforgettable day!

Photo ©

Bird List
Participants: Kenneth, Jesse, and Logan Gingerich, Kevin and Jeffrey Bontrager

  • Eastern Wood Pewee
  • Gray Catbird
  • Song Sparrow
  • American Crow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • American Robin
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • American Goldfinch
  • Common Grackle
  • Hooded Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Black & White Warbler
  • American Redstart
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • Canada Goose
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Carolina Wren
  • Blue Jay
  • Killdeer
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Bay-breasted Warbler
  • Yellow-throated Warbler
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Cape May Warbler
  • House Sparrow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Chimney Swift
  • Eastern Screech-Owl

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