June 22, 2020

Just after I started walking down into the Bear Creek Greenbelt while on a lunch break, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk flying off with a snake, still twisting.  By the time I got to the Red-tailed Hawk nest, near Yale, one of the nestlings was just finishing off the snake.

Red-tailed Hawk nestling with the last of the snake

Then the nestling spread out its wings, as though it were mantling to hide whatever remained from its sibling, who has branched out.

Red-tailed Hawk nestlings

Neither Red-tailed Hawk parent made its presence known while I was watching the nestlings.  However, as I was walking back toward Bear Creek, mama Red-tailed Hawk appeared in the sky above me and circled a couple of times, silently.

A Virginia Rail (or maybe more than one) has been very vocal for the past few days.  It has–or they have-moved a little east of the reedy marsh where I first saw one weeks ago.  The reeds have grown so thick and tall that it’s impossible to catch a glimpse.  Today I stood probably within just a few feet of the Virginia Rail.  Its call was so loud that it felt like my bones were shaking.

But the only birds I saw at the marsh were dozens of Red-winged Blackbirds and this Song Sparrow:

Song Sparrow

Back at Bear Creek, just east of the pedestrian bridge, I saw a Black-crowned Night Heron:

Black-crowned Night Heron

On my walk I saw three different types of butterflies:  Variegated Fritillaries, Western Tiger Swallowtails, and Cabbage Whites.

Greater Fritillary


Western Tiger Swallowtail


Cabbage White

Our back yard has a steady stream of avian customers to our feeders and bird bath.  House Finches arrive by the half dozen or dozen.  The loudest bird is the House Wren.  Northern Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers are steady customers.  Less often seen these days are White-breasted Nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadees.  This past weekend a Bullock’s Oriole and a Red-breasted Nuthatch made appearances.  So did a flock of Bushtits.  And European Starlings, Black-billed Magpies, and Blue Jays make splashy appearances, driving off the other songbirds.