Summertime Search

by Blake Zimmerman, 12 | May 1, 2022 | 0 comments

One warm summer day, my cousin and I had a contest to see who could find the most kinds of birds, animals, trees, plants, or leaves. We met at the trail that led into the woods. Our backpacks were full of field guides, binoculars, and lunch. Our plan was to stay in the woods for several hours.

As we stepped into the woods, we were greeted by birds chirping and leaves rustling. It was nice and cool. Squirrels jumped from branch to branch, and birds fluttered from bush to bush. As we walked farther along, we came to our small creek that winds through the woods. There we went different ways.

As I walked along, I heard a nuthatch’s “yank-yank” song in the distance, and a robin chirped from the nearby bush. As I jotted down nuthatch and robin, l suddenly heard something!

What was that? There it was—a rich, melodious song coming from the other side of the creek! I had no success finding the bird with my binoculars.

Just then my cousin bounded over the creek. “Did you hear that bird? It is a Rose-breasted Grosbeak!”

A bird like that was rarely seen around our place! As we went back across the creek, still trying to locate the bird, I heard a sharp, squeaky “chink” coming from a nearby tree. Was that the bird? I thought to myself as I raised my binoculars. Sure enough—a black and white bird with a bright red splotch on its chest! As I stared at the beautiful creature, suddenly it burst out again with its melodious song. When I could finally get my eyes off of it, I wrote down “Rose-breasted Grosbeak.”

Rose-breasted Grosbeak on branch
Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Photo © Kevin Shank.

Just then my cousin called, “Look! I think I see the female!”

Sure enough, there it was—a not-so-good-looking bird. It looked more like a sparrow, but was bigger, and it still had a nice song. As I wrote down “grosbeak female,” I saw two squirrels chasing each other around a tree. As I was watching them, I heard a cardinal’s pretty song up in a maple tree and a Song Sparrow singing as if his life depended on it.

In the distance, a Turkey Vulture swooped down to a fallen tree and disappeared. I thought, Does that buzzard, have a nest?

Slowly I walked over and peered in, but quickly backed away again. It STANK! I looked again. There were two white eggs! I quickly backed away again, not wanting to disturb the nest. I was pretty happy to have such a find.

By then it was about noon, so I started for our tree house where we were going to eat. After a yummy lunch of sandwiches, chips, grapes, and brownies, we were on our way again for a half-hour search. As I sat down on a log, I saw three crows cawing overhead and a chipmunk running back and forth on a stump. Before I knew it, the half hour was up, and I headed back to the tree house. We counted our stuff, and WHAT…it was a tie!

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