Thursday, March 08, 2012

Yellow-crowned Night Herons Are Back

Visitors to the boardwalk at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest spotted the first Yellow-crowned Night Heron of the season.  They snapped a picture of the bird wading in the creek channel near #15, which looked just like the one we took years ago.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Mark Musselman
Yellow-throated Warblers and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers continue to fill the swamp with their vocalizations.  There are other signs in the swamp that spring is rapidly approaching!  Dwarf (Least) Trillium (Trillium pusillum) is above ground, but not yet blooming.

Dwarf Trillium - Mark Musselman
Reptiles are basking in the sun.

Eastern Mud Turtle - Mark Musselman
Pileated Woodpeckers and other woodpecker species maintain a high volume of chatter and activity in search of insects.

Pileated Woodpecker - Mark Musselman
At least one bird was already setting up housekeeping by excavating a nest cavity.  We heard what appeared to be the gentle tapping of a Downy Woodpecker, but could not locate the bird. We finally zeroed in on the sound and identified the small tree from which the sound emanated.  However, we still could not see the bird and the trunk did not seem sufficiently wide to conceal a bird hiding on the other side.  Finally, we realized that the woodpecker was working inside the cavity.  Therefore, we were surprised when a Carolina Chickadee appeared at the entrance to eject the excavated material.

Carolina Chickadee - Mark Musselman
We do not know if the chickadee created the cavity or merely enlarged an existing cavity, but we were impressed nonetheless.

If spring cleaning has begun, can spring be far behind?

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