October 14, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Shrike, eagle, & many sparrows

I joined Allen Larner and several other members of the Augusta Bird Club this chilly morning for a field trip to Swoope and Augusta Springs, in the western foothills of the county. About 55 species were seen altogether, of which the most noteworthy were a Loggerhead shrike * and a Bald eagle. With the bright sun behind us, we had excellent views. We found most of the migratory sparrows that were the main target of the trip, and I saw eight species for the first time this season or year. In a couple cases, I hadn't seen those birds in at least two years. Today's highlights:

* Shrikes are medium-small songbirds that subsist entirely on the flesh of small animals and insects, much like raptors. They have no talons (sharp claws) with which to impale and kill their prey, so they use thorns or barbed wire for that purpose, often "storing" uneaten food. That's why they are called "butcher birds."