What was that, Bill?

My birding day was an abbreviated walk through Turkey Creek Sanctuary this morning, as I wanted to sleep in due to the start of Daylight Saving Time and wanting to make it to Indiafest before the afternoon wore on.

I bumped into Bill Haddad, a birder who splits his time between North Carolina and Florida. He’s here until late April before departing for the Blue Ridge, where he’ll stay until later in the fall, when he returns to Florida.

We walked most of the boardwalk together, swapping tips and stories, which was pleasant, though it meant not covering as much grounds as I usually do. It was a bit of a “birdy” morning, but most of the action stayed out of sight in the canopy (which is beginning to leaf out as spring arrives).

Bill is an accomplished birder and I learned a few good tips for some areas to concentrate on in April as the migration moves through our area, and his warbler identification is better than mine – something I hope to improve upon this spring.

We had one mystery bird: a light or whitish bird with heavily streaked flanks popped into view on top of a sapling, close by. Bill’s first thought was that it was reminiscent of a Pine Siskin (the quality of the stripes, not the color or shape of the bird). Just the very middle of its throat and belly clear whitish (much narrower than one would expect from a Black-and-white or Blackpoll Warbler) and it had no distinctive facial features. My Peterson’s guide was not helpful, and it moved to quickly for us to get either of our cameras on it. The best explanation we came up with was a Black-and-white Warbler with a slightly aberrant plumage. Such is the way with birding!

We had a nice but quick view of a male Pileated Woodpecker as it worked near its mate in excavating a nest hole (or so we assume – they were on the opposite side of the trunk that we could see).

photo pileated-2014mar09.jpg
Best view of the male Pileated Woodpecker.

Here’s the species list for the morning – many of these were voice only (♪):

  • White-eyed Vireo ♪
  • Northern Parula
  • Pine Warbler (these were excessively numerous today!)
  • Carolina Wren
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Gray Catbird
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Black-and-white Warbler ♪
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker ♪
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Black Vulture
  • Blue-headed Vireo
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Palm Warbler
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker ♪
  • Fish Crow ♪
  • Red-shouldered Hawk ♪

Bill also told me that he’s recently started wearing hearing aids, specifically to regain his lost high frequency hearing. He’s still learning how to gauge distances, which made for interesting stalking of the Northern Parulas and number of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. It was interesting to me to hear about his experience with hearing loss as it relates to birds, as it is something I thought I had to deal with recently.

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