Friday, February 5, 2016

Barred Owls dueting in the batture

I have long regarded Barred Owl as an irregular winter visitor in the Old Jefferson area, occasionally wandering in from the swamps outside the city, never nesting.
Thus, I was surprised on Wednesday when, during a walk along the levee, I was treated to two individuals calling back and forth. They were giving their classic "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all" calls at 11 AM (!), with one bird being decidedly higher pitched than the other. Male owls are generally smaller than females, and I presume the higher pitched bird wad a male, calling back and forth with a lower pitched female. I wonder if they are thinking about nesting there....

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bald Eagles here and there

Yesterday afternoon, I was delighted to see a Bald Eagle sitting calmly in a small tree along River Rd in Marrero. It was unperturbed by the constant stream of cars making their afternoon commute.
It was an immature- one year old would be my guess by the extensively dark plumage. Adults are nesting now, and have drawn comments from around the area- birds are using the familiar nests visible on both sides of I-10 just west of the I-310 interchange, and the nest just off General DeGaul on the West Bank has nestlings already!


Monday, January 18, 2016

Signs of spring: birds getting "juiced"

This week I have noticed a change in the behavior of several of our resident species.  They are now entering their nesting-season preliminaries.

Two days ago, three Cardinals were vigorously countersinging from trees surrounding my yard in Old Jefferson.  I have been hearing wan versions of Cardinal songs all winter, but these birds were clearly (and loudly) staking their territories against each other- the first this year.  And the first time I have heard three singing at once at my place since Katrina (yay!).

Yesterday, a House Finch in Elmwood was, likewise, giving the first vigorous finch song I've heard this year.

Finally, today, a Mockingbird was singing robustly in the batture of Old Jefferson.  Nearby, a Mourning Dove crossed over River Road in a long arc on stiff wings:  a courship flight.  Both of these were firsts of the season for me as well.

Things are gaining momentum! 


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Recent sightings on the batture

As usual, the batture in Old Jefferson has been providing some daily pleasures.

This morning, in a twenty minute levee stroll, I was treated to 22 swimming Wood Ducks and a couple more flybys- not an uncommon species here, but usually detected in single digits.  Probably made more visible by the unusually high river, which is lapping the base of the levee.

A Common Gallinule was also present today- I only see a couple each year in this stretch. 

A flock of White Ibis and Cattle Egrets has been working the water's edge every morning, although today they were on a rain-soaked lawn barely outside the levee- 200 strong, mostly ibis. 

A flock of 120 Robins a few days ago flew out from the batture forest in the morning, headed into the residential areas nearby.  The species is a winter resident here, not the harbinger of spring as it is farther north.

This morning two Eastern Bluebirds fled a wire just long enough to dodge a meddling Kestrel.  A few days ago, a group of 45 American Pipits skittered from place to place on the grassy levee face as bicyclists and dog-walkers repeatedly (unwittingly) put them to flight.

Perhaps the most unexpected bird was a Pied-billed Grebe- seen today and a few mornings ago.  This species does not winter in this section of batture in normal conditions- not enough open water.  It appears the flooding has made the habitat more appealing. 


Friday, December 25, 2015

Great Horned Christmas gift

About an hour ago, around midnight, I was in the backyard gathering in my dogs when the vibrant hooting cadence of a Great Horned Owl surprised me from the lot behind mine- or maybe even from my own rear yard. Although I know them to be a relatively urban tolerant species, it was new to my yard list.
Thank you Santa��

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Peregrines perched in two places in urban Jefferson Parish

In the last few days I have seen Peregrines perched in two places in urban Jefferson Parish.

One was the traditional Jeff Parish water tower near Causeway x I-10- as usual, perched on the first horizontal wire below the tank.  South side of the tower, facing north, around noon.

The other was in a spot where I have not heard of one sitting before:  a large snag tree at the far western end of the West Bank Expressway.  This tree is the largest snag in that area, and stands alone c. 25 m south of the expressway.  The bird was there in late afternoon.

How awesome to have this species around our city! 


Friday, November 27, 2015

Rare kingbird hanging around by Jefferson Playground

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to find a rare kingbird along River Road in Old Jefferson.  It was still there this morning. It is either a Couch's Kingbird or Tropical Kingbird, both species from Mexico or southernmost Texas.  The two species are bright yellow below and dull olive/tan above with pearly gray heads that bear the semblance of a dark mask.  They are inseparable except by voice, and this one has yet to utter anything in the presence of myself of other birders.

Although a vagrant, this bird is not unheard of here- in fact, Tropical/Couch's Kingbirds show up somewhere in the state annually, or nearly so.

As vagrants go, this individual has been relatively easy to locate- perching on wires and conspicuous bare stems near the tops of trees.  Any bird on such a perch in this location that is conspicuously yellow below will very probably be this bird.  It has been making long flights from its perches to snatch insects from the air.

The bird has been most commonly seen along the batture edge, but this morning was on the roadside wire next to the FLEA MARKET sign across from Jefferson Playground. 

Good birding,


PS- upon seeing its attraction to the FLEA MARKET sign, I immediately went home, pulled out some plywood and paint, and stuck a BUGS FOR SALE sign on my roof.  Thinking further, I added BLACK FRIDAY SALE.  Now I'm waiting for the parade of insectivores to appear in my back yard.