Bird list & other natural events, April 2011

Below is a complete list of birds observed and/or heard within our farm’s ecosystem for April 2011. Birds in italics were observed or heard only in flight over the farm, but not otherwise interacting with it. 37 new species arrived or passed by the farm in April, as many as the entire species count in March. Spring is here, all right.

NEW THIS MONTH (37 species, many of which arrived in the last few days of April)

Osprey (soaring high in migration)
Egret (migration; species unknown)

American Kestrel

Bald Eagle (seen before, but not in March)
Broad-winged Hawk
American Goldfinch
White-eyed Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Wood Thrush

Hermit Thrush (seen before, but not in March)

Brown Thrasher

Northern Parula

Blue-winged Warbler
Nashville Warbler

Tennessee Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Yellow-throated Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Indigo Bunting
Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (seen before, but not in March)
Purple Finch

House Wren

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Cooper’s Hawk (possibly Sharp-shinned Hawk; observed killing a chicken)
Wild Turkey (nesting & gobbling)
Great-crested Flycatcher
Gray Catbird
ALSO PRESENT (32 species)

Canada Goose
Great Blue Heron
Wood Duck
Turkey Vulture (observed perching in woods as well as soaring)
Red-tailed Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe (nesting)

Blue Jay

American Crow
Tufted Titmouse
Black-capped Chickadee

Carolina Wren (Heard & observed only a few times during the month; last year they were the bird that we woke up to every day throughout the spring; our local population seemed to drop off after the Feb. blizzard.)

White-breasted Nuthatch
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Robin
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee

Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird

Northern Flicker

Brown-headed Cowbird

White Pelican (migration)
American Woodcock
Snow Geese (migration)
Fox Sparrow


Dragonflies are out, along with many other insects. Joanna found this one just emerging and unfolding its wings. Bats are also active, as are snakes, frogs, lizards, skinks, and more. The rodent population in the field seems to have dropped a bit, as usually happens once the snakes hit their stride. We observed a huge black rat snake near the house, one of our best allies in rodent control.
Late April through early May is morel season. In our first four years on this farm, we’d only found three puny morels, and had begun to think we were incompetent and/or the farm had none. This year, we’ve finally started to find decent ones like that pictured above. We’re still not finding the big hauls others seem to, but it’s been enough for a few meals (pasta with morel-shiitake-cream sauce and scrambled eggs with sauteed morels). They lived up to their reputation in flavor.

It’s been a month of new predators. Along with the broad-winged hawk, American kestrel, and Cooper’s hawk that were all newly identified for the farm, I’ve clearly seen a coyote twice. We hear them regularly along our area waterways, especially with pups in the spring, but we rarely see one. It was a thrill to actually observe such a reclusive part of our ecosystem, and with this year’s fencing projects largely complete I can enjoy its presence more.

2 thoughts on “Bird list & other natural events, April 2011

  1. Here in my suburban yard in Columbia the Carolina Wrens have been thick. I have an unfinished basement, and during the blizzard at least one used to come in through the dog door to get warm. I was glad to let him (them?). This has happened for at least the past 2-3 years. Occasionally he somehow gets up into the house, and it's become routine that I simply open the back door for him, and he knows where it is and sweeps on out.

  2. Huh…maybe they survive winter better in a more protected urban area. Or maybe ours just got wiped out more or less randomly. We miss them, regardless. Wrens certainly are good at finding any openings into areas; we've left the garage door open at times while doing work and will come back to find a wren busily scouting nest sites among the tools.