Date: 10/5/18 4:50 am
From: Joseph C. Neal <joeneal...>
Subject: Red-breasted Nuthatches at Devil's Den SP
Migrants were the main story for me yesterday at Devilís Den State Park. Coming out from Fayetteville, I usually start birding along highway 170, at the parkís north boundary, within sight of an old farm with scrubby open fields, elevation around 1800 feet. Then I drift down along 170 making stops, watching and listening along the roughly 3-miles to reach the bridge over Lee Creek, elevation about 1000-feet. This is the heart of rugged, heavily-forested Boston Mountains.

At top: birdy edge habitat including the old farm and adjoining forest: Indigo Bunting, Northern Flicker (yellow-shafted), Summer Tanager, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Chipping and Field sparrows, a couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and most surprising, several Red-breasted Nuthatches. Subsequently, I found Red-breasted Nuthatches on two additional stops down toward Lee Creek.

Both crow species are still present, but Fish Crows were quite vocal and numerous. They nest in the park, but we are approaching the time when they depart. I finally saw 35-40 of them in a couple of big oaks above Lee Creek, constantly vocalizing. I donít think this was owl talk. With a steady south wind in past few days, my speculation is that these are Fish Crows ready to migrate on a fair (N) wind.

The park is well-known for its winter vulture roosts. A big kettle of mainly Black Vultures (20) and a few Turkey Vultures formed above the highest ridge around 11 am. This is a pretty textbook example of declivity soaring, with south wind pushing air masses upward against the Boston Mountains, perfect riding for birds.

So I was not totally surprised when I heard a Broad-winged Hawk whistle and expected to see a late bird or two somewhere in the kettling. But I didnít. A bit later, I heard this again. Looked again. No hawk. The woods at Devilís Den are full of Blue Jays now, also no doubt awaiting fair wind. No one ever went broke betting on the enterprising array of Blue Jay vocalizations.

Finally, American Goldfinches in the Sycamores along Lee Creek. I assume they were collecting seeds from the ripe balls. So there was brilliant gold on a sunny blue October day. Sycamore themselves are turning all manner of red, orange, and something like blue.

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