by , Ranger
Greg Dodge is a professional naturalist as well as a writer, videographer and producer of natural history DVDs. His images have been used in various TV productions, museum displays, and corporate videos. Above all, he has a fascination and passion for all things natural.
Stop by and say hello Tuesday thru Saturday in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, or on the Dino Trail.

Hermit Thrush and Hooded Mergansers

November 27th, 2012

While sitting at the bird feeders waiting for Evening Grosbeaks to show up (good luck), I heard a soft, almost flute-like whistle. The call was repeated again a half dozen times. Initially ignoring the call, it suddenly dawned on me that I should perhaps take a look. A gander to my right saw nothing but the shrubs and tangle of tree limbs of the woods that border the path leading to Catch the Wind. Then, there it was, a thrush, a Hermit Thrush.

The source of the soft whistle coming from the woods.

Hermit Thrushes are winter birds in our area. There’s nothing rare about seeing a Hermit Thrush in winter, I see them here at the Museum every year. In fact, any walk in the forest of the Piedmont should yield one or two Hermit Thrushes at this time of year, especially if your path takes you in the vicinity of berries, or any small fruiting tree, vine or shrub.

Hermit Thrushes are one of those birds that primarily eats insects in the warmer seasons and can switch over to fruit when necessary, like in the winter when some insects are less than abundant. Among other things, this saves them a long trip to South America each year, although some Hermit Thrushes migrate to Central America.

Keep an eye out for a Hermit Thrush as you walk along the paths here at the Museum. Two viburnums on the south side of the path near the bird feeders are currently full of fruit, this is a good place to start your search.

From November to March, it’s a rare day when I don’t see Hooded Mergansers in the Wetlands.

These three mergs rest at the end of the day. This log is a favorite perch, year after year. It’s visible from the first landing partway down the boardwalk.

Anyone who has read this Journal knows that the mergansers are the topic of, at least in part, many postings. It’s no coincidence. They’re such an attractive bird, they’re here every day, and I’ve always had a fondness for waterflowl.

Yep, any kind of duck, goose, swan, grebe, or loon ranks high on my “like scale.” I must admit that the dabbling ducks are my favorites, along with some of the diving ducks like Canvasback, Redhead, Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Ruddy Duck. But who could resist the little Pied-billed Grebe, or better yet, the tiny Least Grebe of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. But then, there’s the…

Anyway, if you like ducks too, come on over and check out the mergansers.

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