A Field Full of Sparrows, Waxwings, Blackbirds and Robins

In the grass and weeds behind the fire station we watched several Savannah and Song Sparrows, many perching in the tops of tall weeds and in small bare trees, as well as along the old remnant of fence. This field of weeds and shrubs stretched out for several acres, into an abandoned orchard and beyond that, to an area where more trees and large shrubs had grown up. The area was full of hundreds, if not thousands, of birds – Chipping, White-throated, Song and Savannah Sparrows; Eastern Bluebirds; Northern Mockingbirds, Brown-headed Nuthatches, American Robins, Cedar Waxwings and a large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds that also included Common Grackles and Rusty Blackbirds.

This place had, by far, more birds than any other spot we visited during the day. In part, this may have been because we came to it at a good time of the morning, but it also had a good mix of habitats – grass, tall weeds, shrubs, vines, and a wooded section of pines and oaks. At one point, we stood in the gloomy shadows of a huge thicket of privet that grew way over our heads, with hundreds of Cedar Waxwings fluttering, flapping and mewing their high, thin calls all around us and flashing glimpses of elegant crests, black masks and yellow-tipped tails. It was a magical, delightful feeling – until it suddenly occurred to me that maybe standing under this many waxwings feeding voraciously on privet berries might not be such a good idea. And right about that time I felt a wet plop of Cedar Waxwing poop hit the top of my head.

When we finally left this area, I heard a familiar hoo-HOOO-hoo call – and looked around for a Eurasian Collared Dove. We didn’t expect to find one there, so I thought I must have been mistaken, especially when we waited a few minutes, listening, and did not hear another call. But then as we drove out of the fire station parking lot, there sat two Eurasian Collared Doves, perched on utility wires along the busy road, easily recognized by their size, pale gray color and broad, squared-tipped tails – and the black half-collar on the nape of the neck. Later in the day, not far from this same spot, though further from the main road, we found nine Eurasian Collared Doves feeding under pecan trees.

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