Apr 22 2009

Caught in the Act

Published by at 6:48 am under Bird Behavior,Schenley Park

Yellow-throated warbler (photo by Steve Gosser)

Yellow-throated warbler (photo by Steve Gosser)

I'm borrowing a title from Chuck Tague and a photo from Steve Gosser to tell you some of the interesting things I've seen birds do in the past week.

  • Isn't this a beautiful bird?  Of all the early arriving migrants, yellow-throated warblers are my favorite.  I saw them at Raccoon Creek Wildflower Reserve last weekend, arguing about territory, singing and chasing.  They're usually at the tops of sycamores so I'm quite pleased Steve Gosser captured this image.  It's the best look I've had at a yellow-throated warbler for quite some time.
  • About a week ago I was driving north on Interstate 79 when I noticed two pairs of rock pigeons perched on the abutments of a bridge PennDot had just taken down.  Nothing was left of the bridge except its supports.  I imagine the pigeons had come home and were standing on the abutments wondering where the heck their nest site went.  They heard lots of banging and ... poof! ... it was gone.
  • The red-tailed hawks who nested on Central Catholic's roof last spring have chosen a new nest site, this time on a building at Carnegie Mellon.  That probably explains why I saw the male do such a splendid aerial display at nearby Flagstaff Hill.
  • Yesterday morning I walked to work through Schenley Park wearing my bright purple rain jacket.  The color attracted a ruby-crowned kinglet who flitted quite close, then flew into the shrubbery.  To his surprise another male kinglet was already there and raised his ruby crown like a mohawk.  I was astonished by how red and tall the ruby crown became.  The angry bird looked like a completely different species.
  • Last Sunday at Enlow Fork I saw a pair of blue-gray gnatcatchers collecting nesting material.  The male looked especially snappy in his blue-gray plumage.  His black eyebrows made him look fierce and a little cross-eyed.  While observing the happy pair I noticed a female brown-headed cowbird was watching too, perhaps waiting to find the nest so she could lay an egg in it.  If she did so it would wreck the gnatcatchers' nesting season.  Suddenly the male gnatcatcher noticed the cowbird and while still carrying nesting material he began to dive-bomb her.  Over and over again he tried to knock the cowbird off her perch, but she wouldn't budge.  Finally in a parting shot he pooped on her.  Hah!

Every day there's something new to see.  Spend some time outdoors.  It's Earth Day!

(photo by Steve Gosser)

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Caught in the Act”

  1. Anne Mon 22 Apr 2009 at 10:00 am

    Kate —

    My neighbor has a golden retriever and puts his brushed fur out for the birds’ nesting material. When the supply runs thin, a pair of tufted titmice will visit the retriever where he lays on their porch, land on his hip and pull the undercoat off the dog….fresh from the source! Their pooch isn’t bothered by this and just looks over his shoulder to see who’s picking at him. Amazing birds! Amazing dog!

    I continue to enjoy reading your blog and have alerted others to it. –Anne

  2. Amy Fon 23 Apr 2009 at 3:58 pm

    I just laughed out loud over the gnatcatcher’s parting shot! Hope the cowbird doesn’t find their nest.

  3. Lauren Conkleon 24 Apr 2009 at 8:44 am

    That is an absolutely stunning photograph! I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him yet, but I’m a big fan of Steve’s photography.

    I did have the pleasure once of seeing a yellow-throated warbler up close last spring, during a Three River’s Birding Club outing at Buffalo Creek Watershed.

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