Hansville Greenway Offers a Chorus of Birds

                The white bark of a birch tree near the Hansville Greenway is mottled and studded with tiny holes, giving the impression the tree is diseased. Ken Shawcroft, a Greenway founder and avid birder, grins because he knows the culprit.

                “The red-breasted sapsucker makes holes in the tree so the sap comes out and they can lick it up,” he says on a cold April morning. The sapsuckers are in hiding, but robins are chirping and showing off their red breasts and mourning doves are whoo-whooing. The native garden near the Greenway’s start is an excellent spot to view birds. Even better, it’s a  great place to listen.

                “Birds are often too high or too fast to see them well,” Ken says. He presses an app on his phone that identifies the birds around him by their sounds. It identifies Pacific wrens on a trail off Otter Meadow and the high-pitched call of a brown creeper. The creepers creep up tree trunks feeding.

                At the Quiet Place on upper Hawk’s Pond, Ken needs no help spotting two ringed-neck ducks and a mallard to the enchanting music of the red-winged blackbird. Spotted towhees and tiny golden-crowned kinglets with a bright slash of yellow on their head sing in the cedars and red alders on the path to the lookout at Lower Hawks Pond.

                On a spring morning, Lower Hawks Pond entertains with a non-stop symphony of frogs and birds—marsh wrens that sound like a sewing machine, tree swallows, common yellowthroats that hardly seem common with their bright yellow necks, red-winged blackbirds, red-tailed hawks. Hooded mergansers flash their white hoods as they splash and bathe in the pond.

                Bird magic will continue and change on the Greenway as the days warm and lengthen. Treat yourself. Ebird.org offers daily sightings of birds by location. Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab is a free app that identifies birds by their sounds and provides photos and information.  

Cynthia Taggart