Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Autumn Birds to Look For at Maudslay
October 05, 2019
By Steve Grinley
I wrote a piece on Birding in Maudslay State Park during Autumn for the Friends of Maudslay newsletter, so I thought that I would share it with the rest of my readers as well:
Autumn in Maudslay State Park is a special time. The cool, northwest winds bring migrating birds. Look skyward on an autumn day and you may see migrating hawks. The resident red-tail hawks may be moving around, but this time of year you may see soaring broad-winged, red-shouldered, Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks. These birds will circle high above, moving from north to south on their way to Central and South America. Turkey vultures may also be soaring overhead, and you may be fortunate enough to see a local bald eagle or even a migrating golden eagle later in October and November.
Walking through the grounds, you will likely come across a number of resident birds to enjoy. Woodpeckers make their presence known by drilling on trees, so you may hear and see the common downy or hairy woodpeckers, the very vocal red-bellied woodpecker, or the prehistoric-looking pileated Woodpecker.
Also throughout the park you will likely see white-breasted nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, blue jays and northern cardinals. Mourning doves and wild turkeys are also ever-present.
While many of the plants and trees are turning vibrant colors in autumn, many are also producing seed and/or fruit. This abundance of food attracts many species of birds and can make your fall visit more pleasurable.
Flocks of robins, and now eastern bluebirds, are staying through autumn and even into the winter to feed on berries. Fruits such a bittersweet, viburnam, elderberry and winterberry attract a variety of birds in Maudslay. Look for the handsome cedar waxwings feeding on fruit, and an occasional hermit thrush or catbird that might linger into late fall.
Warblers and vireos migrate through Maudslay in spring and fall. Look for them especially in the trees and shrubs along the river, but they could be searching for insects in any of the large oak, maple, ash, birch, or beech trees throughout the park. Common yellowthroats may be found around wet areas and lingering pine warblers in the conifer trees. Most common will be Yellow-rumped, palm, and blackpoll warblers moving through. The resident red-eyed vireos will be leaving but watch for a migrating Philadelphia vireo.
Even smaller than the warblers and vireos are the kinglets, flitting from branch to branch. The ruby –crowned kinglets are just passing through, but golden-crowned kinglets may arrive and stay all winter.
You are very likely to see flocks of goldfinches feeding in the grasses and on the flowers that have gone to seed in the garden areas. They may be joined by several species of migrating sparrows. This is the time of year when song sparrows are joined by white-throated and white-crowned sparrows, as well as Savannah, Lincoln’s and fox sparrows. The tree sparrows start arriving in fall and will stay the winter, as will their cousins, the dark-eyed juncos.
Large mixed flocks of blackbirds will be on the move throughout the park in fall. Flocks will often include grackles, starlings, red-winged blackbirds, and cowbirds. Keep watch for a rare yellow-headed blackbird that could be among them!
To learn more about the Friends of Maudslay go to https://www.maudslayassociation.org.
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