On a bright and surprisingly warm Saturday morning, 19 intrepid adventurers gathered at the Arb Office at 6am to partake in the decade-long tradition of the Annual Arboretum Bird Count. Initiated in 2000, this rite seeks to record the populations of the long-term and the migratory birds that frequent the Arb. At 17 spots throughout the Arb, the volunteers recorded the species they saw or heard in a designated 2-minute span. Over the years, the number of species recorded has ranged from 58 to 73 species.
One sighting of interest this year was the Blackburnian Warbler, considered one of the most spectacular warblers in the Dendroica genus. Its throat and upper breast are a deep orange and much of its head is yellow-orange. Another unusual species was the Orchard Oriole. The smallest oriole in the US, the underbelly of the males is such a deep orange that it sometimes appears black. The females a much brighter yellow. This year, we were lucky enough to see a pair!
We also heard and saw a surprisingly high number of Blue-winged Warblers. These birds are a muted yellow, with blue-grey wings. Usually we only have one Blue-Winged warbler counted in our survey, but this year we recorded 4. Our overall warbler count was lower than it has been in the past because this year’s survey occurred slightly earlier in the migration period. The migration of most birds is based on photoperiod or hormonal cues. As the season progresses, many more warblers should be alighting on the Arb. Whether you’re trying to add to your life-list, or just interested in getting out and appreciating the increasing diversity of calls and colors, the Arb provides the perfect opportunity to welcome our spring visitors.
Jasmine Cutter ’13 for the Cole Student Naturalists
Photo courtesy of Dan Tallman