The PA Migration Count is an annual one-day snapshot of bird populations within our state. The count is held on the second Saturday of May and seeks to answer such questions as: Where are the birds? How many are there? Do migration patterns change from year to year?
This year the Migration Count Day was May 9. I went with my son-in-law Ed and my grandson Jeffrey for the morning, heading out at 5:15 AM. We went to Mt Holly Marsh Preserve, which, sure enough, contains a large marsh, with skunk cabbage and cattails and elusive Wood ducks, but also a large mountain area.
Ed is really good at identifying birds by sound or sight; in our 5-hour walk we saw or heard 54 species. Some special sightings were the female Scarlet tanager, Northern parula warbler, Philadelphia vireo and Worm-eating warbler. In the woods and on the mountain we constantly heard, but did not see, the elusive red-eyed vireos. We counted 135 of them!
We got good views of an ovenbird, low in some small trees. We guessed the pair had a nest nearby, but their nests are on the ground and very hard to spot. But I looked around and saw, right along the path, a small mound of sticks and leaves, and sure enough, it was a nest.
In the old days, ovens were rounded, and the oven-like shape of this bird’s nest led to the naming of the bird.
This was the first time either Ed or I had seen an ovenbird nest, so it was the highlight of our day.
Have any of you who read this blog seen an ovenbird nest? If so, post a comment to let me know when and where you saw it.