Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pennsylvania Penny Birds

There are many great aspects of birding in a new area--tons of new species to see, new areas to explore, the excitement of discovery all renewed. As I discovered in my recent trip to Pennsylvania (and if you all are tired of hearing about this trip, apologies, cause there's still much more mwuahahaha!), another great effect of birding away from home is that, wherever you're staying, you get different yard birds. By this I mean those normal, common species you see up close and around the house, around the park, in the alley, etc.

And perhaps none are so common as the Grey Catbird

In Arizona one can expect Mourning Doves, Inca Doves, White-Winged Doves (in hot months) Gamble's Quail, Curve-Billed Thrashers, Mockingbirds, Abert's Towhees--in essence the less vibrant desert birds. It was nice to briefly exchange these common visitors for the Robins and Catbirds in the northeast, for the Wrens and Cardinals and Chickadees. They didn't bring the same excitement as new life-list birds, but they really helped to set the atmosphere, an atmosphere very different from the Phoenix bird scene. And isn't that in large part what a vacation is all about?

House Wrens are fairly common and pretty noisy, but you won't find many of them around central Phoenix. This House Wren had a very tidy little straw hovel at Ridley Creek Park. It would pop out every few minutes to get a sense of the neighborhood goings on, and then disappear again into its house.

This was the closest I've been to a House Wren, and of course Of Course there's one little twig obscuring the bird's eye. Ugh...

When it comes to little brown birds around the yards and parks, the Chipping Sparrows give even the Eurasian House Sparrow a run for their money. They're a bit more shy, but also more vocal and, if I may so proclaim, more beautiful.

The Unspotted Towhee err.. Eastern Towhee, is another important denizen of the old wood undergrowth. They don't have the spots like our nifty (western) Towhee, but they're still very pretty and they work hard as they shuffle around the leaf litter.

Rest assured Eastern Towhee, someday you'll earn your stripes...I mean spots.