A Very Birdy Park

I recently took an early morning stroll at Ezell Farm Community Park, located between Matthews and Mint Hill. It consists of open fields, an old cow pond, woodland edge, and a popular community garden. Popular with the birds that is.

I always start at the garden because that is where the most action is. There were easily 70+ pine siskins foraging through the various garden plots. A few American goldfinches (a close relative) were mixed in as were a few chipping sparrow, Savannah sparrows, and dark-eyed juncos. Eastern bluebirds love this garden too; a couple of dozen were there that day. 

 Pine Siskin
Photo by Lee Weber


On my way down to the pond nine Eastern meadowlarks flushed from the short grass. Meadowlarks are getting scarce in Mecklenburg County due to habitat loss so I am always glad to see them here. As I arrived at the pond I was greeted by the resident red-tailed hawk, who screamed at me and promptly flew off. That bird has been at this park for a couple of years and always treats me the same way. I caught sight of a lone duck gliding in to the pond. It turned out to be a dapper male wood duck joining a pair of mallards. An eastern phoebe flitted around the pond edge, perching on low hanging limbs in between short flights over the water to nab insects.

Next stop was a more overgrown field with more cover for birds to hide in. There was a variety of sparrows including field, song, white-throated, and Savannah. One bird looked a tad different and turned out to be a very uncommon Lincoln’s sparrow; the only one I have seen this year. I always feel lucky to see one of those pretty sparrows. There was plenty more to see on this field edge too. Both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, hairy woodpecker, house wren, Carolina wrens and an inquisitive hermit thrush. A brown thrasher jumped out of a brush pile, whistled at me, then dove back down out of sight. 

 Lincoln's Sparrow

Photo by Phil Fowler


A Carolina chickadee gave a hurried two-part whistle that caused all the birds to dive for cover. I have learned this chickadee call and it means only one thing: HAWK! Sure enough, a Cooper’s hawk flew right in. Cooper’s hawks are bird-eaters, prompting the winter songbird flocks to develop an Emergency Broadcast System. Cooper’s are attractive birds though.    
The hawk effectively killed the action, so I headed back across the fields to my car. I ended with 42 species for an hour’s birding, thanks to the diversity of habitats present at this site.

 Cooper's Hawk
Photo by Lee Weber