Beauty is in the Eye of the Bird Watcher

This week’s blog is a guest post written by Nadia P., a Brookies alumni. Nadia is an aspiring ornithologist who loves everything “bird”. She has spent nearly her whole life with birds and enjoys raising chickens and ducks. Not only does she love birds, but enjoys learning about all parts of the natural world. Genetics is one of her favorite studies, seeing how traits of one organism is passed to another fascinates her deeply. She wanted to attend WLA to further her knowledge of conservation and wildlife.

Walking around the woods is one of my favorite pastimes. My backyard consists of a bit of woods, swamp, and open lawn. I often walk around in the woods, because there seems to be something new every time I go out there.

Today, I was out cleaning the pool for our ducks, when I saw a turkey vulture swoop down and land in a tree not far from where I was. I quickly rushed inside and grabbed the family camera and followed the turkey vulture into the woods. I first saw him on a branch way up in the canopy, which was hard to get close to get a picture. Later he moved to a dead tree to dry his wings. There I got a few pictures of him majestically perched on the dead tree as if he was proudly showing off his wings to the world. Most people do not like vultures because they have a red, wrinkly face. Personally, one reason I love vultures is because of their faces. If you ever come face to face with a vulture, they seem to have a sad look in their eyes, as if they only want someone to love them. Don’t worry vultures, I love you. Vultures are important in the ecosystem, because they eat rotting flesh, called carrion. Walking deeper into the wood I soon discovered why the vulture was swooping down into the woods. A small fawn had died and the clean up crew (the turkey vultures) was here to get to work.

A turkey vulture stretching his wings on a stump

Walking out of the wood to finish up cleaning the duck pool when I saw the leaves rustle above me. I looked up expecting a northern mockingbird or a blue jay, but to my surprise, it was a bright orange male Baltimore oriole! I was so excited that I nearly dropped my camera. I quickly got out the camera to snap some pics of the beautiful bird. We haven’t seen any Baltimore orioles at our house until this year, so it was awesome to get such nice pictures of it, after only seeing it elusively fly across the yard from tree to tree. Baltimore orioles are known for their beautiful orange hue, different from most birds around Pennsylvania. Each Baltimore oriole has a special song he sings to attract a mate. Baltimore orioles migrate to South America in winter, so we will be saying goodbye to this flamboyant fella soon.

A male Baltimore oriole in a tree

These two birds seem to be as different as you can get. One small, bright orange, and eats fruits, while the other large, a dark brown, and eats carrion. Despite these stark contrasts, they are both majestic and important in their own ways.

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.