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Bird Migration – big and small

As a cold front moves rapidly through our area tomorrow and Monday are good days to get your binoculars out and look for migrating birds.   Big birds like Bald Eagles are easy to spot, the classic adult Bald Eagle with its white head and tail feathers stands out.  But right now we have a lot of juvenile eagles moving around the area.  You can see them at one of the local hawk watch sites like Quaker Ridge right here at the Audubon Greenwich Center or you might spot one riding the wind above one of our local reservoirs or along the Sound.  Quite a good number of eagles use our reservoirs as stop over and wintering sites so keep your eyes open.  Juveniles start out all brown, then begin to get white feathers on their chest.  By year three the white feathers are beginning to grow into their tail and head so that by year four they are the classic white headed and white tailed symbol of our nation.

Meanwhile, keep an eye out at your bird feeder or along the hedge rows; lots of different species of sparrows are moving through right now.  These little fellows are really quite beautiful when one takes a little time to look at each species.  At the top of a cedar on even picking through the gravel of your driveway you may find a rusty capped Chipping Sparrow, in the scrubby shrubs in the back yard look for darker Lincoln Sparrows moving through, notice their gray face with a strong eye line.  If you are along the coast you may luck out and catch a Nelson Salt Marsh Sparrow zipping down from Canada as I did last year.  They are pretty identifiable by the strong yellow coloration in their face.  In fields, especially those with Golden Rod, look for Savannah Sparrows coming through while in wetter meadows the diminutive Swamp Sparrow is prevalent.  The first White Throated Sparrows are also just showing up.  Arriving from their nesting grounds in the Boreal Forest, Adirondacks and Green Mountains these beautiful sparrows will be with us through the winter and love black sunflower seed  so stock your bird feeders with this high protein seed and you will be sure to see them.