Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scholarly Birding

Right in the center of Rutgers University's Douglass campus there is a small pond (referred to as "Passion Puddle") that I often frequent during my winter and summer lunch breaks. Despite being surrounding by the fairly urban New Brunswick, the pond and it's surrounding lawn and patches of trees is an oasis for many species of birds.

In the past I have seen Pied-Billed Grebe swimming casually in the pond, as well as Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Kingbird, and Great Crested Flycatcher using the trees of its bank as perches prior to a hunt.

This winter the area has surprised me again with the wealth of bird-life I've observed. The usual species like Black-Capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Dark-Eyed Junco, and White-Breasted Nuthatch have been joined by a few that are seen less often. Red-Breasted Nuthatch (pictured above) and Brown Creeper were both spotted in the trees up the hill from the pond (behind Foran Hall for those familiar with the area). At least four species of woodpecker have also been observed here (Downy, Hairy, Red-Bellied, and Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker).

Even when the species pool "runs out", interesting behaviors never do. Last week I observed this White-Breasted Nuthatch picking up bits of food (seeds, perhaps) and sticking them in between bark, presumably caching them for later.

It can also be fun to get to know certain birds. The Song Sparrow above greeted me every afternoon for two weeks straight in the exact same location (a small bush on the edge of the pond). After a few days I could tell just where he would pop up and how he would react to me and to other birds.

Even the most common birds around can be fun to watch and to photography. Observing a bathing goose shows just how well adapted these birds and their feathers are to a life on the water. With their well-oiled feathers held close to their body, the water runs right off of their backs. Photographing these "usual" birds in an unusual setting can make things more interesting for you and for anyone viewing your photos.

As always, click on the photos for larger versions and check out my Flickr page.

1 comment:

FiL said...

Neat pictures! I never thought to look there for the less common visitors. One correction: Passion Puddle is on the G. H. Cook Campus, though it borders Douglass Campus on one side.