Nature wastes nothing. When I enter Magazine Beach from Brookline Street I like to check for woodpecker holes in trees with broken limbs. The woodpeckers used them and moved on, leaving them to this year’s nesters, the house sparrows. I look for holes with signs of habitation- clusters of protruding dead grasses, step back to give the birds a little space and wait. A female lands safely out of view in the tree’s leaf cover as a male emerges from the tree hole and flies off. She then disappears into the hole with whatever seed or insect she has found for her young.
Next, I scan the lawn for robins and starlings, whose young are out and about foraging for insects. I find young robins to be particularly handsome-vivid white rings around the eyes with spotted throats and upper chests that give way to a rusty red belly. If I am lucky a couple of Baltimore orioles will cross the field and head into the tall shade trees along Memorial Drive.
By this time, the redwing blackbirds announce my arrival by dive bombing me and making their check- check call. Red wings are polygamous and the 30 or so males I record on a busy day suggest the presence of more females, not to mention the young in the nest. The birds heed the redwing’s warning, rise out of the swale and head for the safety of the tall trees lining the river. I follow them with my eyes: female redwings, starlings, eastern kingbirds, a cat bird, gold finches, and today’s special treat, a handsome tree swallow. He glistens a rich, metallic blue with a contrasting white throat and underparts, his pointed tail deeply split.
Birds all over the park are predators and prey, competitors and collaborators. The trees, grasses, shrubs, insects, berries, birds, microbes, animals and fish weave a web of life that renews itself each spring and makes human life possible. It is vividly on display right now.
Eager to see this for yourself? Walk the park with Jean on Saturday, July 9 at 7am. Meet at the park entrance at the BU rotary. FREE! (Rain date: July 10–Check here at 6:30am Sat. to see if this event is on. The birds will only be out if it’s NOT raining.) POSTPONED TO SUNDAY, JULY 10.
For a list of the birds Jean has sighted at the park since October 15, 2015, click here: Cumulative Species List Spring2016.