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A Birdy Thanksgiving

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

I had the opportunity to bird on my family’s property in rural South Carolina over Thanksgiving. The land is adjacent to farm fields and a large portion of the property was cultivated a couple years back. This area has grow back into a thick brush with several open areas of native grasses and some wetlands. This area now provides a great habitat for birds especially wintering sparrows. I started my exploration from the house and headed down the trail past the cows and chickens. As soon as I reached the vast brush area I encountered dozens of birds along the edge where the field meets the brush. There were chips, calls and songs from every direction. I heard lots of loud Swamp Sparrow chips, several loud chinks from White-throated Sparrows, excited chit calls from a nearby House Wren and the beautiful trills and notes of the Song Sparrow song. As I walked further I flushed a few sparrows from the edge of the harvested cotton field. I quickly noticed one streaky sparrow with gray brown coloring and a complete white eye-ring. This was a Vesper Sparrow an uncommon winter resident in the Southeast. I then noticed another species of sparrow atop the brush. This sparrow also had a white eye ring and showed gray and rufous colors, an unmarked buffy breast and a stout pink bill. It was a Field Sparrow. I continued down the edge of the field and flushed two small doves. I swiftly focused my binoculars and excitedly watched the two doves fly across the field and back toward cows and chickens. The doves displayed a bright rufous color on their wings in flight, they were Common Ground Doves! These beautiful birds are a declining species in the Southeast so it always a special encounter when you see them. I continued to explore walking nearly a mile and identifying 34 species of bird. Some highlights were 4 species of Woodpeckers, 7 species of Sparrows, 6 American Goldfinch, 6 American Pipit and 2 Hermit Thrush!

Happy Birding! -Charles

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