Looking for Owls at Cumberland Farms

As soon as I saw what was reported on eBird I knew I had to go to Cumberland Farms in Middleborough, MA, (No, I am not talking about the gas station). Cumberland Farms is a large open field that is a great habitat for raptors and other types of birds. Recently there had been sightings of both Short-eared Owls and American Woodcocks which were both evading me this year.

I left with my dad at abut 5:00 PM and we planned on staying until around sunset. Almost as soon as we got there we heard our first American Woodcock calling from the field in the distance. We looked around for it with our binoculars but we couldn’t find it. As we kept on walking we saw dozens of Red-winged Blackbirds sitting in the trees. I made sure to scan the flocks to look for Rusty Blackbirds as well as grackles.

Eventually, we came to a stop and set up my scope to scan for Owls and other birds. We saw many Northern Harriers as well as a pair of Red-tailed Hawks but no owls. As I kept scanning the ground and trees, my eyes fell upon a pair of blackbirds that looked different than the rest. I initially thought they were Rusty Blackbirds and that was confirmed as they flew over making their unmistakable calls. As I was watching these birds my dad spotted a Killdeer flying over us and a few more Harriers flying around the area.

As we were about to pack up and leave I spotted something large walking on the opposite end of the field. I originally thought it was a Great Blue Heron but it looked different. I raced down the trail as fast as I could to try and get a better look at it. When I finally caught up it was crossing the road. I looked through my binoculars and could not believe what I saw. A lone Sandhill Crane, in March, in Massachusetts! What the heck was that doing here!? I tried to signal to my dad to come over but by the time he did, it was too late. We looked around a little bit more and saw a few more Killdeer and some Dark-eyed Juncos but then decided that we should leave.

We both got in the car with a smile on our faces. I got two lifers on the trip and we both got many new birds for the year. Not to mention seeing that Sandhill Crane crossing the road. It was an amazing walk and I am looking forward to exploring my home state much more this year.

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