Fenway Gardens: American Woodcock and Snowy Surprise

American woodcocks, a bird we had never seen, had been spotted in the Fenway Victory Gardens. So, on this sunny spring day, we went looking for them. About 45 minutes into our walk, we saw one fly right by us and land in one of the garden plots. It paced back and forth, bobbing its breast up and down.

American woodcock
American woodcock

The woodcock looked like something one would see at the seashore, pecking at creatures in the sand. And it is indeed related to shorebirds, but spends its time on forest floors looking for earthworms. Cornell’s All About Birds has an explanation for the bobbing motion we were seeing:

The bird walks slowly and sometimes rocks its body back and forth, stepping heavily with its front foot. This action may make worms move around in the soil, increasing their detectablity.

Song sparrows stood out on our walk. We saw quite a few of them running around in the gardens. They would jump onto the bough of a tree or shrub and sing their hearts out.

Song sparrow
Song sparrow

We saw a bird that looked like a hawk, but appeared too small to be a red-tailed. We captured it in flight from one tree to another. It turned out to be a Cooper’s Hawk.

Cooper's hawk in flight
Cooper’s hawk

As we were about to leave, we passed by a statue of an owl in one of the garden plots. As we stared at it, it moved! It was a snowy owl, not ten feet away from us!

Snowy owl in community garden
Snowy owl in one of the community garden plots

We had seen one at Belle Isle Marsh earlier this year but from quite a distance. It is rare to find these owls in Boston away from the coastline. This beautiful bird appeared to be napping. As people walked around the garden, it would rotate its head in the direction of the noise but kept its eyes mostly closed.

Snowy owl close-up
Snowy owl close-up

Note the red fur near its claws. This bird has been hunting. One of the gardeners told us that the area has experienced an explosion in the rabbit population. Maybe this owl has found its paradise.

Snowy owl

While the Fenway area has some great birding, keep an eye out when you walk around. We spotted a few sketchy characters loitering in the area.

Complete ebird checklist

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