We went back to the Oconee Greenway this morning, the site we visited during our first lab excursion. All of the students have improved so much with respect to bird ID skills, that I wanted to return to see if we could find new and different birds. Five weeks have passed since the last visit, so I was also hoping to find some new birds moving in.
I was not disappointed at all! We saw a couple new class species (White-crowned Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, and Brown Thrasher) and overall 25 total, a new record for the class. Full eBird Checklist here.
More exciting than that though is the pair of NESTING RED-TAIL HAWKS!!
We first spotted the male, which we’d been hearing all morning, perched near the trail. He was very still and let us look at him for a long time before he left his perch and we watched him soar to a nearby tree. Sitting on that tree was another hawk! This was the perfect opportunity to explain how you can tell a pair versus 2 males (no territorial behavior).
Things got even more exciting when the second hawk left the perch and landed on what looked like a very messy clump of twigs, which turned out to be the early stages of her nest!
Coincidentally, I’d just finished lectures this week on nests and breeding biology! I couldn’t have planned that better! (Thanks for cooperating, RTHAs!)
After class ended, I met up with a colleague who took me on a walkabout of his property – 27 acres of beautiful mixed hardwood forest with a stream running through it. Aside from having great conversations about birds, wildlife, and animal behavior, I am looking forward to bringing students there later this semester to mist-net and using it as a future research site.
I’m sitting in my office surrounded by field gear and I can’t stop smiling.
Bring on the breeding birds!!