by Joanna Reuter
Sadly, the 25th anniversary celebration scheduled for March had to be canceled due to a combination of miserable weather and coronavirus caution. Here’s a photographic celebration highlighting some March observations:
The eagles are nesting:
Cheryl Rosenfeld captured an excellent photo sequence of a Horned Grebe eating a fish. Here’s one (with more on Facebook):
And a sampling of some of the diversity from Eagle Bluffs:
Reports of Pine Warblers have been coming in from places with pine trees, including the Ashland Wildlife Research Area, Pine Ridge Campground, and Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area. Check out the eBird Abundance Animation for Pine Warblers, which suggests that the pulse of migration for these warblers through our region should continue in April and beyond. As their name implies, they are partial to pines, including ones that have been established through planting (which is all we have locally; no pines are native to this part of Missouri). Listening for their trill-like vocalization can help with locating them, especially when they are high in the tree tops. Pete Monacell made an excellent recording at Pine Ridge (see below). Here are more variations of Pine Warbler vocalizations. I find that I can confuse their trill with Chipping Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos, but habitat is a helpful clue.
We had a number of towhees spend the entire winter here at Chert Hollow, as did the region in general. In late March, an influx of returning migrant individuals created a towhee extravaganza. We saw an especially vigorous fight between two males who were presumably competing for the single onlooking female and associated territory at the western edge of our orchard. The two males went at each other, physically and aggressively, in a fight very reminiscent of those carried out by domestic roosters establishing dominance. Opportunities abound to observe towhees in the coming month. They sing prolifically to defend territory; the songs, which can be studied here, are distinct enough to be readily identifiable yet variations on the theme keep them ever interesting. Here’s a photo of a male from CANS:
Many folks made the trip up to the northern Boone County blackbird roost in early March, viewing from the Dunbar Lane location that is now an eBird hotspot. Cheryl Rosenfeld took some great photos, capturing both the sheer density and interesting individuals (such as the leucistic bird below). All reported visits had been in the evening, so Eric and I finally went up before sunrise one morning and enjoyed a rather different, but equally memorable, spectacle as the birds rose early and left en masse, most within a period of 15-20 minutes (see our MoBirds post for more details).
About Sightings: The “Sightings” column has evolved into a summary of the past month’s bird activity as told by photos and audio submitted via eBird lists to the Macaulay Library. Emphasis is on the six-county region (Audrain, Boone, Cooper, Howard, Monroe, Randolph) served by the Columbia Audubon Society. Feel free to make direct submissions to Joanna Reuter by email.