On cold mornings, I always appreciate that my drive to Ruthven is about 45 minutes. I’m afraid that my body just wouldn’t be able to handle the shock of waking so early and being thrown quickly into the cold if I lived, say, 5 minutes down the road. I get to test out the cold air on my walk to the car, and then make sure all of me is good and warm before I get out again to open the gate at Ruthven.
Today was one of those cold mornings, and it was a little windy too. I opened a handful of nets, trying to stick to the ones that had a little bit of cover from the wind. [Net #4 sure would have been nice to have…]
I seemed to catch more birds once the sun had been out for a while–I guess this is what to expect early in spring. The slow start gave me chance to spend some time looking for birds, though. I couldn’t find any Baltimore Orioles in front of the mansion, but I did get to watch the Pheobe work on his nest above the mansion door again. There were a few highlights on the Carolinian Woodland Trail too–a couple nice looking male Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were hanging around on this trail, an Osprey carrying a fish flew over the property (rather far inland), a Red-tailed Hawk chased something almost its size through the trees (not sure what it was), and, most interestingly, I flushed an American Bittern from the brushy area between net lane #6 and the creek. This was a first for the year (I’m not sure we always see them at Ruthven).
The bluebirds were interesting to watch today. Just before sunrise a couple were hanging out on a nest box by the parking lot. The Tree Swallows usually claim these early in the year. A little while later, it seemed the Tree Swallows had reclaimed the boxes and the Bluebirds were gone. At another point in the day, I saw a House Sparrow checking out a nest box beside the mansion. A few days ago, I watched a pair of bluebirds on this box. The House Sparrow stayed around that box throughout the day, and at one point I watched him chase a bluebird in an area nearby. The bluebirds need to be just a little more aggressive. Perhaps we’ll have to do something about those House Sparrows…
1 Downy Woodpecker
3 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Song Sparrow
2 Slate-colored Junco
3 Brown-headed Cowbird
3 American Goldfinch
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Blue Jay (a female first encountered in 2004 who seemed to be carrying eggs–she was 20 grams heavier than usual)
3 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Song Sparrow
3 Slate-colored Junco
2 Brown-headed Cowbird
4 American Goldfinch (one may have been a foreign retrap–could someone else check this for me?)
That bittern would be only the 2nd encountered at Ruthven since 1995. The other was in tall grass close to the river. Nice going.