March 6, 2011
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This morning, I went for perhaps the shortest morning bird walk of all time. I lasted about 5 minutes. I went out the front door of my parent’s new waterside townhouse in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. There is a short boardwalk just outside the house that goes on and along the Lafayette River Tidal Basin. I had to move quickly because the wind and rain was going to start picking up at any moment. It was not cold, though, at least by a Midwesterner’s standards.
Along the bay there was not much to see other than some ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis) and some Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos). However, along the edge of the pond across the street, I saw something that a Midwestern boy such as myself has never seen in winter: a Yellow Rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata).
These birds are a part of a group of birds known as wood warblers. Most of these small song birds spend their winters in the jungles of Central and South America. But there are a few, such as the yellow-rumped warbler, that fly down to the wind-whipped subtropical maritime coast of the North Atlantic Ocean, where temperatures do often remain somewhat milder, even in the peak winter months.
As I headed towards the front door of my parent’s fancy waterfront condo, the rain began to pick up. I saw a Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) scurry underneath a small shrub.
All of this in only 5 minutes. I smiled as I headed inside away from the pelting rain.