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RRR 5/1

New Bird on Block

I'm always exhorting people to listen to what natural sounds that are around them, then to search until they find the noise-makers so they can figure out what they are. I don't mind being asked what birds are, especially if they are easy ones, but why not do the sleuthing yourself if possible? It is very satisfying to solve a puzzle on your own, and you will remember the bird better the next time.

Of course it is best to always have your binoculars around your neck (at least get them out of their case and put them where you can grab them quickly!), but you can tell a lot about a bird from where they are, how they are moving and what type of song they sing. Are they in conifers, hardwoods, shrubs or on the ground; how are they moving if in a tree (different species creep up, or down, or across when gleaning insects); do they move fast, or slow, fly a lot, flick their tails or wings? If you have the Golden Field Guide you can time the songs as to seconds in length and number of songs per minute, and these can be very useful facts in identifying warblers.

So, I thought I knew the birds we have around here, but about a week ago I was shocked to see a yellow-colored warbler feeding on the suet. I had never heard of a warbler eating suet, let alone had one doing it a few inches from my nose and singing a loud, clear trill too. Luckily, a friend who knows this bird, its song and that it migrates north very early in the season was here at the time.

This was a bird I had looked for in vain for years in tall pines, to no avail. Finally, a couple of years ago I was with a hotshot birder in a pine grove and he recognized the song. Then the bird came down low and was foraging nearby so I could actually see it. This was the same place - at the county park near Cronin's golf course in Warrensburg, I had been told there was one singing years ago, but I had thought it was a junco. (You were right, Bob!) By the way, there can be scores of pink ladyslippers there in the first week of June.

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