26 March 2023

Bird update March 2023

Posted by Callan Bentley

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I’m still birding voraciously.

I’m up to 89 species in my county for the year. So that means I added a dozen since last month. A few of those are freshly-arrived migrants from southerly climes, and some are just me putting in the time to go rack up waterfowl at nearby lakes. I’ve maintained my high county ranking, which has oscillated between #4 and #2 this month.

A separate dose of birding was delivered when I led my annual spring break field course, which this year went to southern California. It was great to see roadrunners and phainopeplas there, but the highlight was visiting Unit 1 of the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge, on the south shore of the Salton Sea, where I saw and heard all kinds of awesome birds, notably sandhill cranes and burrowing owls.

I was delighted last evening, back home in Virginia, to spot a sandhill crane migrating north. They are not common birds in this part of the world, and I wonder if I even would have been able to identify it if my brain hadn’t been “primed” by the sandhills in California two weeks previously. Honestly, I have no expectation that I’ll ever see a sandhill crane from my yard again – it seems very, very unlikely. I’m glad that I was wearing my binoculars when it happened to fly by; a good reminder that if you don’t keep the bins with you, you won’t be able to instantly deploy them when needed.

Spring migration has started; Louisiana waterthrushes and Brown thrashers are both back in the neighborhood. Soon the tanagers, vireos, and warblers will follow…