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Archive for May, 2008


Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

I saw a common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) on the deck at work today! It was skulking in the shrubs at first – hard to see more than leaves wiggling – but I had a pretty good feeling based on the song. The wee creature eventually obligingly flew into pretty decent view and sang a bit.

Of all the luck!

Monday, May 5th, 2008

I just started re-reading Pale Fire over the weekend. And today, coming onto the deck at work, heard a bird-sound that grabbed my attention. Massed reedy scrapes. The sounds made me think of Cedar Waxwings, and sure enough, a still-bare tree by the door had a few dozen of them perched and chattering with each other. They were annoyingly backlit, but I found an obliging, handsome one in some sort of red maple (v. triloba?) which was starting to leaf out. Mellow and well-lit, the waxwing allowed me to pull up a chair close to it and sit and watch for a spell. Gorgeous.

Some points:

  • I had never seen these birds in the city before – only up at a campground in New Hampshire.
  • I was a little surprised by their being present at all, since there aren’t any junipers or other berries around on the deck. My guess is that they were resting during migration. They all flew off together except for my special friend, who stuck around and let me watch him for a few more happy minutes.
  • I saw my friend peck at a few twig interstices. Sure enough, wikipedia says that during the breeding season, they will supplement their diet with insects. From what I saw, I’d guess that this is also true during migration.
  • Despite the abundance of windowpanes and false azure in the vicinity, no waxwings were slain in the making of this blog post.

Doves in wuv

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

I spent a while today watching a mourning dove wandering around, picking at twigs. It was quite singleminded at this task, and didn’t pay any attention to my watching from within ten feet or so. It would discard any twigs that were too small or floppy, or that turned out to be roots or otherwise attached to the ground. When it found one it liked, it was usually about as long as its body from beak to tail, and stiff enough not to bend under its own weight. It would hold it and shake it around in it beak a little bit and then, when the twig was apparently adjudged satisfactory, wing up to the tree nearby with it. The tree was some kind of fir, I think – a landscaping tree on the deck at my work in Kendall Square. The dove exhibited an excellent ability to hover as it worked its way into a particular spot in the tree, where it handed off the twigs to another dove. The latter was pretty well obscured by branches, but it looked like it was probably doing the nest-building after the handoff of materials. I assume that he was a man-dove and the other was his lady-love… but this is Massachusetts, so who can say for sure?