When I awoke, the land was damp from overnight showers and the sweet smell of the earth filled the air. The rain has arrived just in time to herald the beginning of fall. It was a cool, cloudy morning, and I went for a walk at the Arboretum. I ambled up the creek trail to the joyous vocals of the Black-capped Chickadees celebrating the rain’s return. They were bursting with energy as they bounced back and forth between the tree canopy and the understory. As I rounded a corner on the path, I could see that they were foraging poison oak berries. They quickly would fly down to a cluster of berries, pluck one, and fly over to a nearby branch to eat it. This patch of poison oak has lost its leaves, so it was easy to see the chickadees eating the berries. I also became more aware that the leafless poison oak blended in more with its surroundings as the chickadees circled all around me eating berries.

Mixed in this whirling eddy of chickadees along the creek trail were many other birds. Red-breasted Nuthatches were looping around the trunks and limbs of trees. Two Downy Woodpeckers were actively pounding on dead branches. A Brown Creeper was hopping up a tree probing the nooks and crannies of the bark. Steller’s Jays were at the top of the canopy collecting acorns. A Western Screech Owl was sleeping in the entrance of a tree cavity. A couple of Spotted Towhees were scratching around in the leaves on the ground. A Bewick’s Wren was bouncing around an Oregon ash looking for something to eat. It was a rollicking fall festival!

Happy fall! Happy birding! See you out there!

See more of Bryan’s work here.