Visit to an Old Orchard

There is an old apple orchard in a town just west of me that has become one of my favorite birding sites. It is now owned by the town of Pepperell, Massachusetts and is preserved as open land for walking, nature walks, etc. I went there to scout out the trail conditions but did not expect to see a lot of bird activity since we are in a bit of lull as winter birds leave and we await our summer visitors. However, it turned out to be a very good morning for birds.

There were many Cardinals and Bluebirds setting up their summer residences. I didn’t get particularly good photographs of the Bluebirds but the Cardinals were more cooperative. The males have their brilliant red plumage .

But I think the females do very well for themselves with a more subdued, but elegant, look.

Tree Swallows were picking out some prime nesting boxes from the ones that are scattered around the preserve. This did not appear to be a fight for possession of the box. But one bird seemed to be giving the other a bit of a tongue lashing.

Song Sparrows are a common sight all year and often get ignored as a result. But they do have a nice vocalization that is appreciated.

Mourning Doves are also year round residents.

Two Northern Flickers were making their sort of maniacal laugh call. These woodpeckers sometimes spend more time on the ground than in the trees as they gobble up their favorite food…ants.

The highlight of the morning for me was finding a small falcon, the American Kestrel. They are about the size of the Mourning Dove. The double black “moustache” is a key identifier. They like open fields where they hunt insects and small animals. This is a female that was perching in trees along the margin of a big open area. She wouldn’t let me get close so these photos had to be taken at quite a distance.

My favorite little bird, the Black-capped Chickadee, is not so shy. This one landed right next to me and was almost too close to my lens for me to focus on him. He had no problem posing for a close up. I wonder if he would have taken seeds from my hand if I had some with me?

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