This evening as dusk was falling I took a stroll down to the Old Jefferson batture.
A path that leads into the batture woods had been recently mowed- making it easy to walk (not sure why anyone would mow it, but I was happy to take advantage!)
Two huge Great Blue Herons, which had probably settled into their evening roost spots, launched over one of the tree-rimmed, weed-choked swales with their slow but powerful wingbeats.
Swamp Sparrows began to call on both sides of me- their distinctive sharp chip note. They are a species that characteristically (in my experience) goes through a short period of vocalizing in the failing light of dusk. During such evening choruses, it is always fun to hear how many there are out there in the marsh that were otherwise undetected.
I have heard other species do this elsewhere in Louisiana- White-throated Sparrow and Sedge Wren, for instance. About a decade ago I found a wintering Summer Tanager- usually absent at this season- in this same woods when it began chorusing at dusk with its ticky toc toc call. For those species that do it, it is a great way to detect birds that you did not know were around. I have never heard an explanation for the behavior.
The highlight of tonight's stroll, however, came when an ambulance siren pierced the evening air of the batture- and stimulated a pack of Coyotes to start howling in response! They seemed to all be in one small area, perhaps fifty yards away, in the trees across the swale that the herons had crossed. Their voices overlapped so that counting them was impossible- but it seemed to be four or five. A treat!
for a copy of Birding Made Easy- New Orleans, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or look for it in area bookstores.