Wood Ducks on Crum Creek
In the spring of 1987 I was invited by a local birder, Helen McWilliams, to go look at the Wood Duck on the Crum Creek. On that day we were successful and found a breeding pair. On April 4th, I wanted to enjoy the Arboretum while also taking in some birding. Equipped with both camera (for the plants) and binoculars I set out for a three hour walk/hike.
I spotted a host of usual characters such as American Robin, Tufted Titmouse, Brown-headed Cowbird, Northern Cardinal and the Common Grackle. I headed through the Magnolia Collection and then across to the old Pinetum and followed the railroad tracks up to the SEPTA overpass. At the overpass a Cooper’s Hawk flew into tree. In the past decade or so the College has seen an increased population of the Red-tailed Hawk, but it is not uncommon to see both the Cooper’s Hawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk on campus.
I wanted to see what was blooming in the Wister Garden so I headed behind the pool and athletic facilities and entered the Wister Garden from the service drive. Many of the spring bulbs were still looking fantastic. From the Wister Garden I found the trail that follows the Crum Creek upstream. I could hear the pecking of a woodpecker. I soon saw both the Northern Flicker and the Red-bellied Woodpecker.
As I headed upstream I could see in the distance some sort of waterfowl paddling in the creek. At first inspection I thought it was the Mallard, but then as I got closer I could see marking on that face. With my binoculars I could see that it was two males and one female Wood Duck. The Wood Duck is one of the few species of ducks that nests in trees. In fact, further on in my hike a saw a pair of wood ducks fly out of the top of a tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera.
The Scott Arboretum and the entire grounds of Swarthmore College are a fantastic site for birding throughout the seasons. There is a bird list for the Crum Woods found on pages 222-228 of the Conservation and Stewardship Plan for the Crum Woods of Swarthmore College.