Well, after a long, long winter (one that many of us may wish to forget), spring is here. Really! One key indicator is the annual migration of songbirds. These birds bring the sound and energy to the woodlands of Kentucky that define what it means to live in our beautiful state. And these birds are now arriving in The Parklands daily. This marks one of the most exciting times of the year in our park – and you don’t have to be an expert birder to begin to enjoy these wonderfully noisy, and brilliantly plumed part-time Kentucky residents.
A great place to start your birding adventure is with our most beautifully colored birds. These are often found along the Louisville Loop and the slight tree edges that line the fields. If you’ve ever wondered why the Louisville Loop winds along these edges of forest and field, it’s because the architects and designers wanted to give YOU a chance to experience some of these beautiful birds in their native habitats.
So, here’s a quick list of some of the most beautiful birds to look for in The Parklands over the next couple of months.
Male Scarlet Tanager – These buggers can be incredibly frustrating to spot as they like the tops of trees, but they are out there. Best spot to look for them is on the Louisville Loop through the Humana Grand Allee area.
Male Indigo Bunting – often called “blue canaries” due to their loud calls, these guys are best spotted in woody, shrubby terrain. A great spot to look for them is along the Louisville Loop, south of John Floyd Fields. Head Up – they sing from dawn to dusk.
Baltimore and Orchard Orioles – no, not the baseball team. These are some of the last arrivals to our area. Look for them in pairs, males and females. The male will be calling from the edge of a branch while the female will be in the background. These beautiful birds love insects and nectar and with a little work and advice, you can bring them to your backyard feeder! The Louisville Loop along the Humana Grand Allee is a great spot to see these guys as they hunt all of the bugs that hatch off the Fork. Baltimore Orioles tend to be a tick brighter than Orchard Orioles.
Kentucky Warbler – Have you ever wondered why summer trips to the woods are so much louder than trips in the winter? A lot of that has to do with warblers. These beauties have a lot to say – and wouldn’t you after spending all winter in Mexico and Central America? Look for them all along the Loop, but a great spot is the small woodland between Pope Lick Trailhead and Trestle Point. You’ll likely hear them more frequently than you see them.
Red-headed Woodpecker – Ok, this is an editorial choice of mine because it is my favorite bird in The Parklands. If you’re like me, you’ve seen other woodpeckers with red coloring on their heads (think northern flickers or redbreasted woodpeckers) and wondered why they weren’t called “redheaded”. Well, one look at this guy in the wild, and you’ll understand quickly. Look for them in nesting pairs along the Fork. And when you see them, hang tight as they don’t venture far from their nests that are usually found in snags (dead trees). Last year our CEO Dan Jones spotted a nesting pair near The Flats. We hope they come back again!!!
Finally, the phoebe. If you haven’t seen one before, you’ve certainly heard it. Phoebes are some of the largest flycatchers in our area – they help eat bugs before the bugs get us. Like your pet dog at home, these guys love to wag their tales. Look for them on lower branches and fence posts. These little birds are all over the place, but the Coppiced Woods Trail is my best recommendation to hear and (if you’re lucky and patient) see them.
This is just a quick sampling of the many summer songbirds that come to The Parklands each year. Remember, when you see these birds, they only spend half of their year here. While we’re making a conscious effort here to protect the space they need to nest, what happens half-a-world away in Central America matters just as much for their survival. For more information on these birds, take one of our birding walks offered through the PNC Center for Education and Interpretation. For more information on these birds, or to hear what their calls sound like in the wild, check out: www.allaboutbirds.org – from Cornell University.