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  • Mark Burns

Heron Rookery Bird Walk

On Saturday, March 19, a group of about 20 birders enjoyed a casual morning hike along the Shenandoah River, courtesy of Shenandoah University. Though it was a mild, partly sunny day, the number of singing birds was modest, testimony to the ground hog’s accurate prediction of lingering winter!!!



As well, only a few early spring flowers were in bloom, even skunk cabbage was just emerging. A group of three male red-winged black birds were displaying in competition for breeding rights, yet we saw no females. A number of field sparrows were singing from grassy areas. Surprisingly, only one song sparrow was present, as they are usually very abundant in the scrubby areas. A handful of winter birds, including white-throated sparrows and a ruby crown kinglet, were still flitting about. An especially encouraging sight was a pair of bluebirds nesting in a natural tree cavity, a sign of their continued return, thanks to the nesting box trails nearby. The hike culminated just across the river from the Parker Island heron rookery. The nesting herons were extremely active, with over 35 nests being very regularly attended by the adult pairs. At the south end of the island, a bald eagle pair actively soared about their nest. The herons seemed surprisingly unperturbed by the active eagles. As usual, this hike is always a wonderful opening to the breeding bird season.


Species List


Canada Goose 4

Wood Duck 2

Common Merganser 9

Great Blue Heron 40 Rookery

Black Vulture 2

Turkey Vulture 3

Bald Eagle 2

Red-bellied Woodpecker 3

Downy Woodpecker 1

Pileated Woodpecker 1

Blue Jay 10

American Crow 6

Carolina Chickadee 13

Tufted Titmouse 7

Tree Swallow 2

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1

White-breasted Nuthatch 5

Carolina Wren 3

European Starling 3

Brown Thrasher 2

Eastern Bluebird 15

American Goldfinch 3

Field Sparrow 9

White-throated Sparrow 5

Red-winged Blackbird 9

Brown-headed Cowbird 2

Northern Cardinal 13


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