Friday, December 26, 2014

Bald Eagle over the Mississippi River in Old Jefferson

Fifteen minutes ago, as I drove River Road headed upstream past the Jefferson Playground, the familiar silhouette of a Bald Eagle appeared high over the Mississippi River.  It was also headed upstream, flapping occasionally but mostly gliding on set wings- a welcome accent to the Turkey Vultures that more commonly frequent the skies of this area.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tufted Titmouse in an unusual spot

At 8:30 this morning I was treated to the mellow peter peter peter peter of a Tufted Titmouse in Harahan, near 6th Street x Hickory.  I was surprised, since the species is quite restricted in its occurrence in East Jefferson.  The closest I would have expected to perhaps find one would be the batture, which is 0.85 miles distant (thank you, Google Earth).  I listened for several iterations to make sure it was not a mockingbird's imitation (mockers will always break into something else after a handful of repetitions).

It's doubly interesting, since the peter peter peter is its nesting season song- another early sign that the birds are starting to gear up for the spring ahead, even though we are not yet at the solstice (well, okay, just short of it by a few hours...)


Friday, December 19, 2014

Peregrine perched on Jeff Parish office building

An hour ago in the rain, I was in Elmwood and saw a Peregrine disappear behind one of the high rise Jefferson Parish office buildings on Citrus.  It looked like it was approaching a landing, so I drove around through the parking lot and there it was- clinging to the ledge below a window on the top floor.

The bird was relatively brown backed, suggesting an immature.  The perch looked rather uncomfortable, and not very sheltered from the rain- not sure how long it will stay.

It is on building 1201, the twin of the Joe Yenni building.  Facing it from the Yenni building, the bird was on the left end of the top floor, just below the window.  I hope somebody was enjoying the view from inside!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Unseasonable Bronzed Cowbird flock

At the corner of Hickory and Jefferson Highway in Harahan sits a pair of feeders, stocked frequently with generic store-bought wild bird mix.  I often view them at close range since they are right next to the sidewalk and conveniently positioned at the stop light.  Usually they are thronged by House Sparrows, and occasionally Monk Parakeets, but yesterday a flock of 25 or so Cowbirds was in attendance.

All but two of them were Bronzed Cowbirds- distinguishable from Brown-headed Cowbirds by their more hefty beak with a "Roman nose" shape, and in some birds by the red eye.  The other two in the flock were male Brown-headeds, a nice comparison.

Bronzed Cowbirds typically leave for the winter, so I was not expecting them.  Some readers may be surprised that they were here at all, as some field guides do not show southeast Louisiana as being in their geographical range.  We have for decades had a local disjunct population here, separated from their primary range in Texas.  Our birds are of unknown origin- an ornithological puzzle.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Jean Lafitte yesterday afternoon

Yesterday I walked the Coquille Trail in the early afternoon with a group of about ten families members and church friends.

Early on the trail we came across a flock of a dozen or so American Robins energetically feeding on berries in the canopy, flying back and forth over the trail from tree to tree.

A few minutes farther down the trail, two Barred Owls started hooting back and forth to each other.  I tried to bring one in by imitating, and seemed to maybe get them a bit more energized, but they did not approach.

As expected, there were Yellow-rumped Warbler checks to be heard everywhere, and an occasional Swamp Sparrow chip, Phoebe sip, Carolina Wren teakettle, or Carolina Chickadee deedeedee.

After we turned along the Kenta Canal, a Hairy Woodpecker passed by through the trees, giving its characteristic sharp peek.

From the observation platform at trail end, two flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds were visible out in the marsh.  Birds peeled from them in small groups for the next twenty minutes, passing over or past the platform and calling check as they headed over the cypress swamp.

Raptors were a general plus, totaling two harriers, a kestrel, a Bald Eagle, and tons of vultures- mainly Turkey but a few Blacks.

Good birding!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sign of spring already! Mourning Dove performing courtship flight in Jefferson.

It may seem a stretch to think that our spring nesting species can be getting into the mindset already, but today I stepped out to my car and saw a Mourning Dove arc over the street on stiff wings.  This is their courtship flight!

This may seem crazy, but actually happens fairly regularly- my notes record that I witnessed it in December in both 2011 and 2012. 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Peregrine and Pipits

Yesterday about 1 pm, a Peregrine was under the Jefferson water tower at Causeway x I-10.  A traditional spot for the species, though always hit or miss.

This morning as I was driving Hwy 90 below the gently descending Huey P Long railroad bridge in Bridge City, a flock of about 30 American Pipits came flying into the neutral ground, showing the  relaxed, weaving movement diagnostic of pipit flocks.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Pine Warbler in for the winter

This morning as I stepped out my door, a familiar smacking note came from the three tall pines across the street.

Pine Warbler.

Pine Warblers are scattered throughout residential New Orleans in winter, and although they are not strictly limited to areas where mature pines are present, they certainly are much more often found where some are present.  Even a mere handful of tall pines- perhaps just three or four- seems to be enough to coax one into spending the winter.

Male Pine Warblers are sharp-looking, green above, with bright yellow breast and throat, and two crisp white wingbars.  To me, they bear more resemblance to a Yellow-throated Vireo to any other warbler- but the latter are not around in winter so don't create confusion this time of year.  Female Pines are duller: browner above, with dingier and more restricted yellow below.  Immatures are also dull, with some so muted that they appear essentially gray-brown above (with wingbars) and off-white below.

Pine Warblers nest commonly on the North Shore, where they are present and widespread the year round and often venture into yards from surrounding pine stands.   South of Lake Pontchartrain, they are exclusively a winter visitor, with us till March or April.

Good birding!