Trailblazers Nature Club were both focused on aerial insectivores of the BSES Nature Trail! We started our sessions studying how to identify Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows. We also studied Eastern Bluebird since we have nest boxes for them on the property. Then, we ventured out to look for all of the above! Unfortunately, cold and windy conditions didn't make for the best observations of these species. In fact, we had light flurries during Tuesday's walk! Although temperatures were rather cold and windy both days, we did have quite a few exciting & even exceptional finds on the trail!
By far the most noteworthy record of the week was of two Savannah Sparrows observed feeding in the hillside next to the recess yard on 4/19! This is the first-ever property record of the species, our 123rd species of all time!!!! This super exciting find is so exceptional that it is a write-in on the Birds of Bethel Springs Checklist:
Next, club for grades 3-5 observed a bird fight between a Red-tailed Hawk and three American Crows! As the aerial duel played out, students spotted another bird of prey flying lower than the battle: Broad-winged Hawk on 4/17! This is the fourth property record of the species. Oddly enough, the third record occurred last week on 4/12 with club for grades 1 & 2. All records of this species on the trail come from mid to late April as individual birds. Broad-winged Hawks are generally known for migrating in very large flocks as they pass high overhead, but they generally migrate in the daytime. We don't have any records of these massive flocks (or any flocks for that matter) passing over because we're all in the classroom during the time of day that these instances generally occur!
With 6 years of decently comprehensive eBird data, we are now able to start discerning patterns in the arrival of certain bird species in migration!
Our FOY Barn Swallow was observed on Tuesday 4/17. This bird has just arrived in migration to our school where it nests on the building in multiple locations. According to eBird, 2017's arrival of Barn Swallow to the property was on 4/25 and 2016 was on 4/14.
A pair of House Wren marked a FOY observation in the brush line across from the meadow on 4/19. In 2017, the first House Wren arrived on 4/18 and in 2016 one arrived on 4/22.
One Yellow-rumped Warbler was observed on 4/19. This date also aligns with previous year arrivals as well! In 2013, six Yellow-rumped Warblers were observed for the first of the year on 4/17. The next record of the species arriving in spring was in 2017 with three birds on 4/18. The records between 2013-2016 do not show any spring observations of the species, but that is likely due to an absence of data rather than an absence of the species on the trail.
Finally, our wintering species are spending just a few more weeks here before heading north! Enjoy your last looks of White-throated Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco before they split for their breeding grounds!!!