Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pockets of DC nature

Bartholdi Park, US Botanic Garden, Washington, DC

In DC for a couple of days finishing up my sabbatical research (success!), I had a few moments to stroll through some natural settings. Bartholdi Park, across the street from the US Botanic Garden building, is a beautifully landscaped oasis. I witnessed a song sparrow try to catch a sphinx moth (I broke it up, unintentionally, trying to get a photo; quite a meal for a bird if successful!)

There is a fuller garden featuring native US flora adjacent to the Botanic Garden building. Here is the "wetland."

Nearby, there is a larger wetland that is part of the Museum of Native American History.

I was staying in Rosslyn, so I had a chance to stroll through Theodore Roosevelt Island one morning. Very birdy, with Carolina chickadees and wrens, robins, cardinals, and red-eyed vireos galore. Except for the joggers, dog-walkers, and traffic noise, a pleasant escape from the city.

Coolest moment: bizarre red-eyed vireo behavior. I tried very hard to get video footage but all I had was my iPhone camera. I looked it up--it is documented in Bent. I'll let him describe it:
Several times in the course of the past 30 years or so, I have seen a red-eyed vireo acting in a very odd manner. It has occurred when an adult is feeding a full-grown young. The old bird suddenly departs, for a moment, from its normal behavior; it draws its feathers tight to its body and sways slowly from side to side through a wide arc, certainly as great as 90 o. If the two birds are facing each other, as they usually are, the bill of the adult points successively far to each side of the young bird, over and over. The old bird gives the impression of being in a sort of trance, or as if it were trying to influence the other bird in some strange way, although the action probably has a more prosaic explanation. Behavior of a similar nature is described under "Courtship." I have never seen any other species of vireo act in this manner.

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