My Wonderful Adventure

by Ezra Looy | Sep 1, 2022 | 0 comments

Male Blue-winged Warbler singing
Blue-winged Warbler. Photo © Dogwood Ridge.

Before I started my twenty-four-hour birding adventure, I knelt beside our creek and looked into the water. As I did, I prayed for a successful birding day, and I thanked God for the opportunity to do this contest.

To start, I pulled out my Audubon bird call and began to call to the birds. It was a lovely day, and I knew it was the day to be out in nature. A House Wren chirped melodiously back at me. I marveled at the sound, and I wondered what that little bird was doing over in this part of the woods. I got closer and brought my binoculars up and saw the wren jumping from bush to bush, singing as it did so.

He must be marking his territory. But, why? I thought. I soon found that it was making two nests in my bird house. I read in my bird book that the House Wren makes two partial nests or sometimes more, and the female then picks her favorite nest cavity and completes the nest.

“How amazing!” I said in a low voice. There was finally a bird nesting in my birdhouse. This was a good start.

I moved on through the woods, stopping and observing almost every bird. When I was almost through the stand of hardwoods, I heard a White-breasted Nuthatch chatter at my back. As I turned to see the nuthatch, it fluttered past me to a nearby tree. The bird would take the bark off the dead tree and bring it to a hole in a tree about 20 feet/6 m from me. I had never seen a nuthatch’s nest, or any nuthatch building one.

I moved on, writing down every bird I saw or heard. There are so many birds! I thought.

A small bird flew past my head and landed less than 10 feet/3 m away. I brought my binoculars up to see a bird with a black neck and yellowish green head and back. I flipped my bird book open and looked in the warbler section. Sure enough, it was a Black-throated Green Warbler. “Wow!” I exclaimed. This five-inch bird seemed very tame and didn’t care whether I was there or not.

As I walked through another stand of woods, a screeching sound stopped me in my tracks. Flying right above me, a Red-tailed Hawk screeched at my presence. I focused my binoculars on the large bird as it flew into the sky to circle the area where I was standing. Another Red-tailed Hawk joined the first, and both the hawks flew side by side. They looked to be a pair by their reaction to each other. Maybe there is a nest nearby? I wondered.

As I was walking and keeping an eye above me, I was thinking where to go next. The big pond might have some kind of waterfowl on it, I decided.

Halfway there, I heard some squeaks and chirps under the pine trees by the edge of a large pool.

“No, it can’t be. Why are they still here?” I whispered as I looked through my binoculars. Less than 10 feet/3 m away were about twenty Pine Grosbeaks, all getting drinks from the water.

The answer came to me as each took its drink and flew to the top of a nearby pine tree. These Pine Grosbeaks were getting ready to go north. “How wonderful, seeing them right before they take their leave,” I said to myself.

Then all at once, they seemed to say “Goodbye,” as they chirped at me and flew north.

I waved and said, “Goodbye,” back to them, as if they understood my gesture.

Two minutes later I reached the big pond and skimmed over it with my binoculars. Empty. Just plain empty, I thought.
The thought was interrupted abruptly by a Pileated Woodpecker mocking my remark by loudly chattering at me. At the time, it seemed to say, “Be thankful.” Then it rapidly flew away, leaving me in my thoughts.

“You’re probably right,” I said as I sat down to look at my bird list. “So many warblers and sparrows—I never knew there were this many where we live.”

As I went to bed that night, I thanked God for all of His creation that I had seen that day. I fell asleep to the hoots of the Barred Owl and Great Horned Owl far out in the woods somewhere.

When I woke up the next morning, I dove out of my bed, ate a quick breakfast, and quietly slipped outside. As I made my way to the place I left off the previous night, a tiny bird caught my eye as it flew from bush to bush around me. Prothonotary Warbler? I wondered as I jotted down in my head the plumage, size, and behavior. This bird kept making a “Fuzzzz buzzzz,” sound as it flew around. I flipped my bird book open to find it was a Blue-winged Warbler.

“How amazing is its behavior,” I whispered. It would cock its head and peck on each branch it landed on.

As I started to make my way home, the birds all seemed to say, “Goodbye,” and “See you next time,” because they chirped joyously as I walked through the woods.

Over the twenty-four-hour period, I had seen sixty-seven species.

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