Little Stacy Park Birds by Katie VonDrehle
When I was younger, I used to know all of the state flowers and birds. I thought that by focusing this project on birds would help refresh some of those memories, and I would like to say that it definitely has. Whenever I walk around Austin, it is mostly grackles that I see. Usually they are what seems to be in the thousands just sitting on the telephone wires just before sunset and cawing loudly, making me feel like I’m in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. I wanted to find out what other birds besides the infamous grackles reside in Austin.
I chose an area of town that is more residential, but has plenty of walking paths and parks. Little Stacy Park Creek is near the Blunn Creek Greenbelt and it is fairly small, but it makes up for it in bird and animal watching. I always went either early morning or early evening. I noticed that the birds made much more noise in the morning than they did at night and early evening.
I found out it is very difficult to take pictures of birds from far away, because even with zooming in they were blurry. Regardless, I saw some extremely pretty birds. Once I had been sitting at my spot for a while, I started to notice the little birds come out. One bird was mostly blue with a white chest, but it was not as large as a blue-jay, and it was hopping around near the water. With the help of the Travis Audubon (which is an awesome local bird-watching organization and blog), I was able to identify the bird as a barn swallow. A second bird I was able to identify was very dark colored, and luckily it was close enough so that I could see it was black and possibly blue. With the help of yet again the Travis Audubon, it helped me identify the bird as a purple martin, another type of swallow. The picture it showed online depicts what I saw near the creek, dark blue and black bodied bird. I mostly saw small birds the first time I went to the creek as well as a couple of grackles on telephone wires along the way. All these small birds liked to go around the water.
The second time I went to the creek I saw familiar birds. I was walking down to the creek when I saw a bird I had never seen in Austin before. At first I could only see the back of it, so I could see its black and white spotted wings and it’s brown head. What distinguished this bird from the others was its fuller body and the tipped down beak.
I noted the colors of this particular bird in my notebook, especially the beak, which was a giveaway that it was a type of hawk. After investigating, I discovered that this bird could be a red-shouldered hawk, which tend to perch themselves on trees near streams and lakes. I tried to get closer to the bird to take a better photo, but it stared at me, turned its head sideways, and then flew away. While it did not have a significantly larger wing span, it was still much larger than the other birds I had been seeing on my previous trips.
It was extremely peaceful to sit by the creek and just bird watch for about an hour at a time, away from technology and just having a pen and paper to write observations.
- Cornell University. (n.d.). Red-shouldered Hawk. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-shouldered_Hawk/id
Birds of Central Texas. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2017, from https://travisaudubon.org/