Yesterday I visited two Finger Lakes Land Trust sites near the Danby/Ithaca
town line.  The non-warbler passerines took an unexpected turn on center
stage, delivering charismatic, genre-bending, intimate, and utterly
endearing performances for me, a rapt human audience of one.

* WINTER WREN singing his incomparably energetic and complex song from a
surprisingly high perch right at the entrance to the Kingsbury Woods
Conservation Area.  This was a coveted first for this year’s Spring Bird

* Downstream from the Kingsbury Woods parking area, a SWAINSON’S THRUSH
making like a Louisiana Waterthrush or an American Dipper, standing out on
rocks in the middle of Lick Brook and even wading out into the swift
current, over at least 30 minutes.  Though I know that Swainson’s Thrushes
out west favor riparian habitats, I have never seen Swainson’s Thrushes
doing anything quite like this before.  Nor have I been able to find any
literature on such behavior, even in the Birds of the World species account.

(I saw four other Swainson’s Thrushes yesterday, all behaving typically
near the ground in the shadowy forest – three in Kingsbury Woods, and one
dazzlingly close at the Sweedler Preserve at Lick Brook.)

* Fledgling COMMON RAVENS along the Lick Brook gorge at the Sweedler
Preserve.  I saw two hulking adolescents together right next to the trail,
looking almost like adults but with little remaining patches of gray natal
down and vestiges of yellow baby-gapes still at the corners of their
mouths.  I heard and saw them begging, and heard at least one more raven
nearby (probably more), but I didn’t witness any feeding.

Photos of all these birds, plus other recent highlights, are here at the
Spring Bird Quest update page: Thank you again to all of
you who have been encouraging me and especially donating to the Land Trust
this month, on your own or in connection with this SBQ.

Mark Chao


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