Monday, September 21, 2015

Eye Spy: 6 Birds to Spot at the Arboretum Now

Cooper's Hawk Photo by Susan Marshall

Numerous lush trees, a variety of berry-laden shrubs, and several water sources make Morris Arboretum a prime spot for bird watching for both experts and amateurs alike. Next time you visit, bring your binoculars and your bird guide, or pick up a guide in the shop.

As you explore the arboretum, here are six birds that you might see this time of the year:
  • Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii): Cooper’s Hawks are common in this area, but can be stealthy and quick. They prey on smaller birds or mammals, such as jays and chipmunks.
    Where: One glided swiftly over me as I was wandering the wetlands this weekend.
  • American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis): The males of this New Jersey state bird are easy to spot in spring and summer because of their bright yellow bodies. If you want to attract finches to your own yard, plant Echinacea (purple coneflowers). As the flowers fade in mid to late August, the finches will show up to gather the seeds from the spiny flower heads.
    I unintentionally frightened two males who were blending in with the yellow goldenrod flowers in the wetlands
    American Goldfinch Photo by Susan Marshall

  • Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater): Cowbirds have increased in number over the years, sometimes at the expense of other birds. These brood parasites don’t build their own nests. Instead they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, destroy the young of those birds, and the unknowing parents then raise the cowbird’s young.
    Where: I spotted several enjoying the birdfeeder next to the Fernery.
    Brown-headed Cowbird Photo by Susan Marshall

  • Flycatcher (Empidonax sp.): It can be hard to tell the Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) from the Alder Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum). They used to be considered the same species. Apparently the voice is the best way to tell them apart.
    A little flycatcher was spying on me from the trees in the wetlands. I’m not sure if it was the Willow or the Alder.
    Willow Flycatcher Photo by Susan Marshall

  • American Robin (Turdus migratorius): Most people associate robins with spring, however, they are around most of the year. Whole flocks of them can sometimes be found in the treetops in winter.
    Where: I saw several robins in the following areas: the wooded trail that goes from the Fernery to the wetlands, the shallow water of the Key Fountain, and beneath the trees near the Japanese Overlook
    American Robin Photo by Susan Marshall

  • Mute Swans (Cygnus olor): It goes without saying, your visit to the arboretum is not complete until you’ve said hello to the two resident Mute Swans. Mute Swans usually mate for life. They are not totally mute, as the name implies, however, they are less vocal than other swans.
    Where: The Swan Pond. You will most likely see several ducks here, as well.
    Swans Photo by Donna Duncan

There are many other birds to be found at the arboretum. You don’t need to be an expert to seek out these birds, just observant. A bird guidebook and the arboretum’s seasonal bird list are great starting points. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website  is a very helpful resource and BirdNote, a daily two-minute podcast, is a fun and easy way to learn more about birds. Also, Morris Arboretum offers several excellent bird classes and bird watching field trips each year. Look for some in the fall class catalog. 

What birds have you seen at the arboretum recently?

Article contributed by Kristen Bower, Guest Garden Blogger for Morris Arboretum

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