Friday, July 19, 2013

Crane Wildlife Management Area, Falmouth - 7/14/2013

Despite the fact that it is mid-July, the so-called "summer birding doldrums", I am happy to report there are many birds using the field at Crane WMA this time of year. The strategy is to get an early start. Bird song and activity drop off quickly after 10AM and model airplane enthusiasts fill the skies with their wings and distinctive sounds by mid-morning as well. Three of us ventured out into the field at 7AM under very humid and mostly cloudy skies. The temperature was in the 70sF, but when the sun peaked through it quickly felt like 90F! Another reason for a visit during this steamy month is for the wildflowers, which are in peak form and attract many insects, including several species of butterflies!

Baltimore Checkerspot
Grasshopper Sparrow
This large (1,800+ acres) Wildlife Management Area on Cape Cod features a large sandplain grassland habitat and adjacent pine barren/scrub oak forest. The open areas are fine Grasshopper Sparrow habitat, as they prefer dry grassland interspersed with small bushes. This is one of only a few easily accessible places to get up-close looks at this state-listed specie. They did not disappoint today. There were 6 or 7 of them "tee-up" and singing from small bushes. Two Grasshopper Sparrows were seen carrying food, no doubt being brought to their young.

Grasshopper Sparrow

This field seems to be a premier spot in the state for Orchard Orioles. I'm guessing these orioles disperse to this area in mid-July as post-breeding family groups. We observed several groups of 3-5 birds all over the fields. Many of these Orchard Orioles are females and or young birds of the year. Their plumage is mostly yellow with a sharply pointed blackish bill and are noticably smaller than the more familiar Baltimore Oriole. A quick glance at one may have one thinking Yellow Warbler instead of oriole!
Most of the expected species were in attendance besides Northern Bobwhite (probably around, but not for us!). Seems like this bird is getting harder to find here, even though it is still regularly stocked during the hunting season.

*Many thanks to Rick Schofield for these great photos

Wood Lily

42 species

Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  1
Herring Gull (American)  1
Mourning Dove  8
Chimney Swift  1
Downy Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1
Eastern Phoebe  4
Eastern Kingbird  9
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  5
American Crow  4
Tree Swallow  25
Bank Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  30
Black-capped Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  45
Northern Mockingbird  4
European Starling  16
Cedar Waxwing  12
Ovenbird  2
Common Yellowthroat  12
Pine Warbler  8
Prairie Warbler  5
Eastern Towhee  8
Chipping Sparrow  11
Field Sparrow  10
Savannah Sparrow  2
Grasshopper Sparrow  10    Careful count, a few juveniles.
Song Sparrow  12
Northern Cardinal  3
Indigo Bunting  5 
Red-winged Blackbird  5
Orchard Oriole  40    Careful estimate (a bit conservative). Several family groups. 6 males, the rest were females and juveniles. Seems like a good breeding year. Numbers of this species have been present here at this time of year for several years now.
Baltimore Oriole  9
House Finch  1
American Goldfinch  8
House Sparrow  2

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Vin Zollo


  1. Rick's photos are amazing -- thanks for sharing!

    1. You can see even more at