If this image included audio, you would be hearing the gorgeous, descending notes of a Louisiana waterthrush’s love song; the light tapping of yellow-bellied sapsuckers; the wheezing of gnatcatchers and the chattering of kinglets; the (annoyingly) persistent chirping of a chipmunk; the murmur of a small waterfall spilling into a creek; and the sound of multiple yellow-throated and yellow-rumped warblers singing from the tree canopy above. Today was all about the aural experience of early spring.
Today I hiked the trails of the Broughton Nature and Wildlife Education Area in Marietta, Ohio. This is one of my favorite places to be during spring and summer. The 500-acre wildlife area features several miles of trails that take you through mixed woodlands, along streams, and into meadows — smack dab in the heart of great bird habitat.
It had been several months since I had had the chance to do any birding (darn production deadlines), so I was long overdue for some spring migrants. The second weekend of April is still a bit early for the full onslaught of neotropical migrants (that tends to hit southern Ohio towards the end of the month), but I knew there would be a few early arrivals lurking about.
And I wasn’t disappointed. Right off the bat, I heard those gorgeous descending notes of a male Louisiana waterthrush. My all-time favorite bird song. Louisiana waterthrushes nest along this creek bed every year.
I also heard the explosive notes of a white-eyed vireo, the chattering of ruby-crowned kinglets, and the screams of red-tailed hawks. Mix in some trills of yellow-rumped warblers and dark-eyed juncos and you have an early morning avian chorus. The juncos will soon be headed out of Washington County, leaving us for their Canadian breeding grounds.
From May through July, this place will be chock-full of nesting birds: hooded, Kentucky, worm-eating, and yellow-throated warblers; American redstarts; Louisiana waterthrushes; ovenbirds; white-eyed and red-eyed vireos; wood thrushes; and much more.
Ever notice how much cooler robins look in the middle of the woods, running along the forest floor, as opposed to standing out on a perfectly manicured suburban lawn?
Perhaps the most interesting find of the day was this eastern phoebe nest. No eggs yet, but this bird was keeping a close eye on things.
I checked my favorite spots for hooded and Kentucky warblers. Nothing yet. But they will come. Same goes for the indigo buntings that nest along the Power Line Trail.
This morning has just whet my appetite for what’s to come. Winter is over, folks. Bring on the migrants.