Yesterday morning after I dropped my oldest girl off at ballet and made a quick run to the LDS Humanitarian Center, I noticed some birds in a little marshy spot right next to a very busy freeway.
On the way back from the Center, we decided to check it out. We parked at a gas station across the street and walked down the road a bit. There was a stream on our side of the road and the dried reeds lining the stream were higher than our heads!
Apparently they also make good swords—the kids felt the need to bring some home and try it out.
We finally got up the nerve to cross the busy street and climbed carefully up the hill, making sure to stay far enough away from the equally-busy frontage road/freeway area. I was so surprised that birds wanted to live in such a noisy area.
Little wetland area next to Highway 201 and 3200 West
Another view, before we crossed the road
This little wetland is absolutely loaded with a gorgeous type of bird—bright golden-orange head, black body, and white stripes on the wings—that I guessed was a yellow-headed blackbird. (This guess was made on my less-than-a-week-old information from looking at various birds on websites. Turns out, I was right! Was I ever shocked. :))
Isn’t he a beauty? From Allaboutbirds.org
We couldn’t begin to count how many of these blackbirds are living in this area—we saw at least 8-10 at various times. We also caught a glimpse of the female, who is much less noticeable but still very pretty.
You can’t tell in this picture taken with my cell phone, but that black smudge in the middle of the picture is a yellow-headed blackbird.
The kids usually humor me on my interests (some would say “obsessions” :)) and often get really interested themselves, but the birdwatching was one where they were rather skeptical. They couldn’t see how sitting quietly looking at birds would be that fun or cool.
However, yesterday Bran and Nia were absolutely glued to my binoculars that I luckily had with me. I barely got a chance to use them because they were so fascinated by the birds. We also saw Canada geese, mallard ducks, and an odd black duck-looking waterbird with a white bill that we later found out was an American Coot:
We also saw a couple of other birds, including one brown and white bird that decided it would be fun to take a nap on the side of the road. I haven’t been able to identify it yet, even with the help of websites and the various bird guides I got from the library last week—I guess we didn’t get a good enough look at it.
The kids screamed with laughter (due to the roar of traffic, we didn’t have to be quiet during the birdwatching) over the bottoms-up antics of the mallard ducks looking for food in the water. They also couldn’t believe the beauty of the blackbirds. I think I’ve got some new birdwatching converts-in-the-making! We can’t wait to go out again, just as soon as this awful weather clears up.
Ciara and Bran, trying out the new binoculars we got from Recreation Outlet a couple of weeks ago