Sparrows, Ducks and Colored Leaves

October 16 already! 

We’re heading into the chilly days of the Pumpkin Patch.  Here’s what to expect in the coming weeks:

  • Migrating warblers are far south of us now, but sparrows are on the move.  I saw my first white-crowned sparrow on October 3.
  • Soon our lakes will be full of ducks.  Gadwall, American wigeon, and northern pintail are already at Lake Erie. 
  • Yesterday’s wind blew a lot of leaves off the trees but those that remain are green.  Watch for bright red leaves on red and sugar maples and burnished red on oaks.
  • First frost coming soon (if you haven’t had one already).
  • Pennsylvania hawk watches are counting lots of sharp-shinned and red-tailed hawks.  Golden eagle migration will peak at the Allegheny Front in about a week.
  • Watch for big flocks of robins, grackles and crows at dusk. 
  • By the end of October, the sun will be up for only 10.5 hours.
  • Hunting season has begun.  Wear blaze orange and be aware of PA’s hunting seasons.  You’re generally safer on Sundays because there’s no Sunday hunting.(*)

I’m going out today to see what the wind brought in.  I’m sure I’ll find sparrows, ducks and some colored leaves.

(photo of a white-crowned sparrow by Steve Gosser)


(*) By the way, the PA State Legislature is considering a bill (HB 1760) to allow Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania.  Keystone Trails Association (hikers) and the Humane Society are among groups that oppose it.  There will be a legislative hearing in Harrisburg on Oct 27 concerning this bill.  Contact your legislator if you have an opinion about it.

On the soap box:  I hike on Sundays. My personal opinion — which is my own, and does not reflect the opinion of WQED in any way — is that I oppose Sunday hunting.   Hunting seasons run almost all year in Pennsylvania depending on the prey. There are 12 million people in PA but only 1 million hunters.  Without Sunday hunting, 11 million people have 1 safe day per week to spend outdoors hiking, biking, farming, horseback riding, birding, nature walking.  With Sunday hunting, hunters will have 7 days; 11 million people will have none.

6 thoughts on “Sparrows, Ducks and Colored Leaves

  1. I’m with you on the Sunday hunting ban, Kate. It’s nice to be able to enjoy outdoor activities on Sunday without wondering whether you’re in (or adjacent to!) non-posted territory.

  2. I have hunted in the past, and in my experience, the woods are quiet and hunters don’t fire indiscriminately. As you have said, wear blaze orange as well as vests for your pets.

    It’s a beautiful time to be in the wild, if you can find it.


  3. Speaking of which, I heard that someone polled hickers on whether they had ever been killed by a hunter or by a car accident. Amazingly none of them reported being killed by either, so the likelyhood of being killed by hunters or a car accident is actually equal according to this study. 😉

    (Yes, I was kidding, no one performed that study.)

  4. Ducks… I was down at Duck Hollow enjoying the sun last weekend. The usual mallards and wood ducks and random kingfishers. One duck seemed rather out of place. I thought it was a merganser but the coloring was all wrong. Had my binoculars (always in car) but not my camera. Came home and went web searching. It was an immature female common merganser. A lucky find 🙂 Wish I’d had my camers :-/

  5. Just had an adult WCSparrow right out the living room window this evening…got a decent photo thru the window…pretty cool, since I saw the juvenile out the window too a few days ago…don’t even have to leave the yard or house to see them…all because of the plantings done the last 10 years…plant and they do come!

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