Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cherry Tree Feastival, Birds of Bear Swamp

Cherry trees of any stripe are bird magnets, and I've got a big one that keys out to Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) in the yard that is currently a war zone of sorts, as American Robins try to keep all the fruit for themselves. The robins have been driving away Common Grackles, Cedar Waxwings, Gray Catbirds and even gray squirrels, but this morning I watched a Red-eyed Vireo turn the tables and chase a robin out of the tree. You wouldn't think a vireo could take on a robin - until you've been bit by a vireo's hooked bill. Vireos are now placed next to shrikes in the checklist for a reason.

[We banded this Red-eyed Vireo in Bear Swamp last weekend. Note the hooked bill. Photo by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]

Nesting by passerines is still well underway - witness Tom Reed's Marsh Wrens below. In Bear Swamp, Cumberland County, we have yet to catch a hatch-year bird, but everything is of course showing signs of breeding condition. One Prothonotary Warbler seemed almost certainly to be an unmated "floater" male, singing constantly and moving around over a wide range in the forest.

[This male Prothonotary Warbler was a "floater" banded in Bear Swamp last weekend. Photo by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]

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