Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - 63

walked near the edge of the driveway, then
paraded across the middle of First Field.
The next day, I saw her in the flat area
on the Laurel Ridge-side of the house. But
in all the years we've seen a hen turkey,
we've never seen one with poults. I wondered if she had lost her young because of
the incessant rain and storms, predators,
or, perhaps, it was the same hen and she
is infertile.
Still another mystery was what happened to our bluebird couple. Early in the
spring, we had put up a new bluebird box
on a power-pole beside an open area near
the garage. The bluebirds occupied it, but
the box was far enough away from the
veranda that I watched it only from afar.
The same day the hen turkey first
walked down the driveway, I saw a tree
swallow, his deep blue back reflected in
the sunlight, swoop through the air near
the bluebird box as if he wanted it for
himself. But the male bluebird perched
above the box in a watchful stance and,
at last, the tree swallow gave up, flew the
length of First Field toward the spruce
grove and disappeared.
I was so engaged with all the birds I
was watching, that it was several weeks
before I realized that I hadn't seen the
bluebirds for a while. On a clear day in
late May, I took a short walk across the
lawn and up the driveway, displacing three
small rabbits eating grass in the median
strip. That's when I noticed a strange
figure blocking the entrance to the bluebird box and went over to have a look.
It was the desiccated tail of the female
bluebird. I called Bruce to help me open
the nest box and we discovered the
dried-up female bluebird hanging over
her complete nest but there was no sign
of chicks or eggs. I wondered if the male
had been unable to find enough food for
her during the many rainstorms, or if he
MAY 2020	

had starved or been killed by a predator.
As I sat on the veranda, day after day, I
noticed the suite of singing birds changed
from hour to hour. And almost every day
there were new arrivals.
The same day the bluebird held off
the tree swallow, the first indigo bunting sang from the topmost branch of a
medium-sized walnut tree in the middle
of First Field. In mid-afternoon on May
18, I heard the first eastern wood-pewee
singing his lazy pee-a-wee.
The next day, sitting in my study with
the window open, I heard the blasting
song of the returning Baltimore oriole.
Two days later, a cerulean warbler sang
in the backyard walnut trees. That was
the last bird species to return.
I listened to my favorite songsters,
the wood thrushes, every morning and
evening and a whip-poor-will at 5 a.m.
and 9 p.m. as he circled the house calling.
There were frequent song contests
between male scarlet tanagers up in the
walnut trees. And the randy chipping
sparrows often mated on black walnut
branches.
On a beautiful Memorial Day, I spent
from dawn to dusk outside listening to and
watching our yard and field birds. Two
surprise birds were a hooded warbler that
landed atop a nearby veranda chair and a
yellow warbler singing down near the old
apple tree at the edge of First Field beside
the driveway. Another bonus just after 7
p.m. was a barred owl that called from
Sapsucker Ridge.
All in all, I had had a memorable
Memorial Day and sedentary May in
which I recorded 45 bird species from
common ravens and turkey vultures to
a Cooper's hawk and common yellowthroats.
63



Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020

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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Contents
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Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - May 2020 - Cover4
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