This morning, I went out with another young birder in my area to go to some local spots with the main goal of finding an American tree sparrow.
The first spot we went to is a place called PennDot wetlands which is a part of the larger Boyce-Mayview Park. This is a small little wetlands area where I’ve had some good birds in the past and is a place where there are sometimes American tree sparrows.
I pulled into the parking lot at 8:00 and Jack and I started to walk down the trail which leads up to the wetlands. The trail was pretty quiet overall but there were a few golden-crowned kinglets which gave nice looks. However, things started to pick up as we reached the wetlands and started to walk around it. The first birds we saw were a couple of white-throated sparrows in the undergrowth by the trail. Cool birds but not an American tree sparrow. We then hit an area where there seemed to be a lot of birds. The first ones we noticed (besides the omnipresent chickadees and kinglets) were two brown creepers sidling up a tree trunk. We then noticed a large number of sparrow along the banks of the creek which borders the wetland. Lots of song and white-throated sparrows seemed to composed the core of the group but then I saw something that was different. Raising my binoculars, I was that it was a fox sparrow (the first one I have had in PA this fall)! However, Jack didn’t get to see as it quickly flew off so it wasn’t quite as good. Looping back around the wetlands produced more of the same and we headed back to the cars to go to the next spot. However, as we returned, another fox sparrow showed up! This one stayed around for a little bit longer (providing awesome looks) and Jack saw it so it was doubly awesome! The only other birds of note were a small flock of dark-eyed juncos which greeted us at the parking lot when we got back.
We then moved on to the next spot we were going to which is a property owned by the Allegheny Land Trust called Wingfield Pines. This was going to be a fairly short stop to just quickly check for any sparrows (especially American tree sparrows). We pulled into the parking lot and walked down the trail which leads to the main part of the property. There is a small area of wetlands and pond in the middle of the property and we decided to circumnavigate that area to see what we could find. The bird life didn’t seem to be cooperating for the first portion of our walk with exceptionally close views of a red-tailed hawk being the highlight but things started to pick up as the rounded the other end of the pond.
The first good bird that we found was the one we had come for, an American tree sparrow which Jack spotted.
American Tree Sparrow
While this isn’t the first tree sparrow I’ve seen this fall it’s the first I’ve seen in Allegheny County so it was quite cool. Moving on, not all that much of note was seen though we did see two red-winged blackbirds which is cool to see this late in the year. We quickly reached the turn off for the parking lot, but decided to walk towards another pond on the other side of the property just in case we came across something else good. Approaching the pond, Jack found a field sparrow which is always a cool bird.
Nothing of particular interest was at the pond itself though on the way back there were tons of robins and cedar waxwings feeding on the berries in the trees along the trail. Some of the waxwings especially gave very good looks.
After that, we decided to leave as both Jack and I had work to do later on in the day. Overall, a very good and rewarding day of birding!