Bird Walk at Coverdale Farm Preserve

By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

Photos by: Eric Roberson

Last Friday, I led a bird-filled walk at Coverdale Farm Preserve complete with colorful trees, and lots of migrant sparrows, warblers, and a few raptors.  Yellow-rumped warblers were swarming everywhere, eating poison ivy berries as if they were a delicacy.  The bane of a pleasant summer walk, poison ivy berries are relished by these late-season warblers as well as woodpeckers and other songbirds.  Birds were cooperative through the forest edge and abundant thicket at the preserve and we got great looks at many species in good light and in the scope. 

Coverdale Farm Preserve is a 352-acre property owned by the Delaware Nature Society.

At one point, a male and female Sharp-shinned Hawk, both juveniles, toyed with a small group of Blue Jays.  They swooped at the jays, chased them, scared them, and then would chase each other.  It really seemed like play, or practice hunting was the main objective.  Whatever it was, it went on for 10 minutes and was a real treat to witness. 

A Sharp-shinned Hawk wheels around, chasing Blue Jays for practice or maybe play?

Again and again, we located thick vines of yellowing poison ivy with abundant berries.  Yellow-rumped Warblers gorged themselves to fuel their migration south, and yes…spreading this native vine.  In my opinion, poison ivy is a wonderful bird attracting plant in the fall.  Look but don’t touch!

A fall plumage Yellow-rumped Warbler will eat insects when available, but they LOVE poison ivy berries.

It was a perfect autumn morning with long, soaking looks at many species of birds, colorful trees, and fading asters in the crisp air.  Link up with one of our bird walks sometime soon before winter sets in and the migrants leave us.  Free bird walks are offered at the Bucktoe Creek Preserve each Sunday and Monday at 8am, and Thursdays at Ashland Nature Center and Abbott’s Mill Nature Center at 8am.  See for directions to these locations.  Don’t forget to look at the sidebar on this blog for other events that are happening soon! 

A full list of the 39 species found on the bird walk at Coverdale Farm on October 21 can be found here.

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