Monday, April 21, 2008
Yard with pale yellow fragrant rhododendron
Birdwatching Near a Soccer Field in Late Spring
Yesterday there was a lone mockingbird feeding in the grass with the small flock of starlings. Today it’s a black phoebe with the starling flock. They feed on the ground while the phoebe hawks from the top of the chainlink fence that separates the field from the YMCA parking lot. Its bill is shockingly short and thin; I always forget what a small sharp bill the black phoebe has. Now here’s a single golden-crown sparrow, then—look!— another; they are fussing around in the duff under the row of young redwood trees along the fence.
And—quick—over there in the grass, a house finch with an extra-bright red head. The bills of the starlings are a brilliant yellow in this season; their fresh dark feathers gleam and shine. A few have the dull remnants of juvenal plumage, and one smaller youngster is still completely brown.
What draws these birds to this suburban space?To this lawn-chemicaled and mown school soccer field and this line of not terribly-healthy-looking redwood trees? The smallest tree is dead, but seems to be sprouting an infinitesimal bit of green a few inches above the ground. The only birds that use the trees at all are the phoebe, who really prefers the fence, and—once only—the
golden-crown. The sparrows stir the duff, and the phoebe flies
out repeatedly for insects, but all the rest are poking though the grass. I can’t see anything to eat there, but my binoculars are at home.
at 10:13 PM