Rusty Blackbird.jpg

Photo: Rusty Blackbird from Cornell Lab of Ornithology

With reports of Lake Canopus and White Pond being frozen over, the Putnam Highlands Audubon Society (PHAS) rescheduled the "Third Saturdays" Duck Sitting to Foundry Cove in Cold Spring.PHAS Board Members Kyle Bardwell, Lew Kingsley, and Ryan Bass led the walk from the PHAS side, with special assistance from experienced birder Sean Camillieri as well as Saw Mill River Audubon's Larry Trachtenberg.

Observers experienced 29 species of birds, highlights including:

- Rusty Blackbird: a species in a mysterious and steep decline, this scarce bird migrates through our area in March and can be found overturning leaves in flooded forest habitat

- Bald Eagle: (3) individual birds were seen effortlessly soaring and cutting into the stiff NW breeze

- Wood Duck: (1) pair in Foundry Cove and a separate flock of (15) birds put up by a kayaker in Constitution Marsh

- Eastern Phoebe: (2) birds were sounding off with their eponymous vocalization; a true harbinger of Spring - the Eastern Phoebe is one of the first insectivore migratory songbirds to arrive

- Song Sparrow: (14) birds were seen, many of them foraging on the ground directly in the footpath

- Red-winged Blackbird: up to (30) birds were observed, some flyover flocks while other individuals staked out territory their classic "Conk-a-ree" song from the marsh, displaying their bright epaulettes