Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Grackles Gathering at Dusk and Other Evening Birds

Evening can be a great time to look for birds - many species are active later in the day and can be observed hunting for food or returning to communal roosts. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.

Many people think that in order to see birds its necessary to get up very early in the morning, and while it is true that rising early will definitely produce some great sightings, it's also very possible to head out in the later afternoon or early evening and see plenty of birds as well. This can be an especially good option for people who can't devote a lot of time to birding and might only be able to get out in the field on occasion after work. This 4ht of July day was pretty warm and humid in Boston, so I decided to do a little evening birding myself in Newton, MA. There were many species out in the open and easy to see, and even more activity hidden in the thick vegetation where I have no doubt other species of  birds were going about their business on this summer day.

A Common Grackle in a tree in Newton, MA. Copyright image Daniel E. Levenson 2012.
In addition to a Red-tailed Hawk, several Eastern Kingbirds, American Robbins and Mallards, I also saw a large group of Common Grackles, a species which often gathers in large communal roosts in the evening. Red-winged Blackbirds and American Crows also exhibit this behaviour, and with some careful observation it shouldn't be too hard to spot large flocks of these three species forming at the edge of fields and at the tops of tall trees. Grackles are fairly resourceful birds which draw on a wide variety of food sources, both plant and animal. The folks at Cornell's e-bird project have put together a great web page on the natural history of the Grackle, which you can view by clicking here.

Evening is also a fantastic time to view various kinds of Swallows and Chimney Swifts in the northeast - these amazing acrobatic birds can be seen swooping and diving through the air over fields, wetlands and ponds as they hunt dragonflies and other winged insects.Even if you're not an early riser (which, for the record, I'm personally not) there's no reason that you can't enjoy birds and other wildlife. With a little effort, some binoculars and some practice (not to mention insect repellent) anyone can spend an hour or two in the late afternoon and early evening watching a wide variety of avian life.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2012.

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