Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Summer's Morning in October

This morning I decided on the spur of the moment to check the Biocore Prairie for migrating sparrows since it's only a short distance from my house. Parking at Frautschi Point gave me a chance to walk through the woods for a while. At the point where the trail turned off toward the prairie I found a group of two or three tiny birds busily foraging in the trees right by the trail. Tiny birds = warblers! The closest I could come to an identification was to call them Pine Warblers.

Once I reached the prairie the view of the lake was wonderful. Unfortunately I had dressed for a more typical October day even though I knew it was going to be hot eventually. I didn't realize how quickly that would happen. After spotting a few birds I headed back to the woods to cool off. On the way I met a woman who was obviously a much more serious birder than myself. She asked me what I'd seen and I told her about the Cooper's Hawk, White-throated Sparrows and Pine Warblers back in the woods and the Cedar Waxwings and others I'd seen on the prairie and its edge. She seemed to think the Pine Warblers were odd but plausible and also mentioned seeing White-throated Sparrows and hearing Kinglets. We wished each other luck and went our own ways.

Photo Courtesy of Birdfreak.comBack in the woods I recalled what she had said and started to wonder exactly what a Kinglet looked like since I don't recall ever seeing one. Flipping to the relevant page in my field guide I got more than a little excited to see that the illustration looked very much like the little birds I'd seen earlier. By some miracle the mystery birds were still feeding in the same area where I'd seen them before and I had a great opportunity to watch them. I was soon 90% sure what I was looking at were Ruby-crowned Kinglets. It wasn't pointed out in the field guide, but I noticed the illustration showed black legs and yellow feet. Sure enough, these guys had them! Then, even as I wondered if they only showed their red crowns during the mating/breeding season, one of them hopped down on a branch by another and erected his ruby crown. Bingo! Now I was sure enough to add bird #224 to my Life List. (Ruby-crowned Kinglet Image Courtesy of

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