A Morning for the Birds


Although the final day of September was cold and chilly, the weather failed to deter a group of determined birders who met at the North Shore Community Gardens on Gregory Street in Danvers. Carrying umbrellas and wearing raincoats and boots, this group of eleven braved the soggy conditions without care. Few birds could be seen flying overhead, which may have led one to the false conclusion that it was a poor day for birding. Not this group.

Right away our fearless leader Suzanne drew the group over to a cluster of trees and shrubs where, having arrived early to scout out the area, she had noticed some Indigo Buntings. They no longer wore their namesake color, but were still a pretty sight. Several more sightings brought the group around onto a path in what Suzanne explained was a favorite spot of the birds. We passed by an unfortunately gigantic clump of Japanese Knotweed before walking out onto an area of open field. Just ahead, flitting between two small willows, was a bird that caused something of a debate. After much peering through binoculars and studying photographs taken with Suzanne’s long lense, the consensus was that it was a Swamp Sparrow (check out the photo and tell us if you agree!)

Back by the gardens, it seemed clear that the reason few birds were flitting about in the open air was the definite presence of raptors. We’d already sighted three Coopers, two Red-Tailed and one Sharp-Shinned Hawk before a Peregrine Falcon passed overhead. Watching the sharp wings cut through the air, it was no wonder the birds stayed to the vegetation. A particular persistent young Cooper’s Hawk stayed close by, determined to flush a morsel out of the garden, but he failed to make a catch.

Then came the geese. With a cacophony of wing beats, hundreds of Canada Geese circled above the corn fields. To the left of the fields a coyote walked through the grasses and seemed to make a catch, possibly a rabbit.

By this point, this particular birder was turning blue, so I left, but with a new knowledge of birds. I can now confidently (more or less) identify a few more species of birds. With my newfound knowledge, granted by the incredible Suzanne and this amazing group of birders, I’ll impress my friends next time we are out in nature. I myself am very impressed by all birders. With patience and attention they have taken in the world of nature and learned to speak one of its languages- the language of birds.


Photo of young Cooper’s Hawk by Suzanne Sullivan.

Follow this link to the ebird list of the birds we sighted: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S39476587