Shivering for Birds

by | Dec 1, 2021 | 0 comments

“Oh! Look at those Cedar Waxwings!” Joseph exclaimed. Less than ten minutes into our bird count day, we were pleased to spot six Cedar Waxwings. They soaked in the early morning sun, a bit of warmth against the cold wind. Eventually they fluttered to a mud puddle for their preening.

And less than ten minutes into our day, I was shivering, wishing I had brought along more wraps. I had been counting on the exercise of our bicycling trip to keep me warm and hadn’t taken into account a frigid sail down two steep hills.

My status as a non-birder became apparent when I almost left home without any binoculars. But now, armed with my sister’s binoculars, I hoped to spot at least a few common, easily identified birds to add to our list, besides keeping track of all the birds my brothers saw and heard.

Joshua and Joseph scanned the treetops.

“Blue Jay.”

“Mockingbird on top of that evergreen.”

“Oh, hey, mark down three crows.”

Pedaling down the road, we encountered meadow larks, starlings, robins, Blue Jays, Blue Jays, and more Blue Jays.
We turned off the smooth road onto a bumpy, gravel road. The boys were pleased to spot a Brown Thrasher, which is uncommon during the winter. I pulled out the tablet.

“Ruby-crowned Kinglet! One Palm Warbler, five crows, ten Dark-eyed Juncos.” The boys and the birds kept me busy.

I scanned the trees and caught a movement overhead. A bird? A squirrel scampered down the trunk and went on in the way of bushy tails. I watched with intense interest as several deer bounded across the road and joined their mates at the far end of the meadow.

Moving farther into the woods, I noticed a dwelling with a caution sign tacked to a tree. “Drive slowly,” it warned. “Deaf Dog!” The deaf dog kept up a monologue of barking as we made our way past.

Arriving home at 1:30, I was happy to rest from the seven miles we had biked. I was satisfied that we had enjoyed a good day. The boys continued their pursuit of birds around the home place. Later, scanning over our bird list, I asked with all innocence, “Why did you cross out a bird I had marked down?”

“Well,” Joshua explained, “the Myrtle and Yellow-rumped Warbler are the same bird.”

“Oh.”

Altogether we tabulated fifty-four species, with a total of 1,080 birds. Some of the best birds of the day were Bald Eagle, Wilson’s Snipe, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Purple Finch, and Eastern Screech-Owl.

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