We decided to go for early spring birds instead of looking for ducks so headed out to Rockwoods Reservation and pines across 109 to listen for Pine Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush.  If the pine was on the east side of the highway, the traffic noise drowned out his song. We had Song Sparrows on the prairie at Rockwoods, but there was almost no water in the creek except at the springs.  I thought I heard one waterthrush across from the headquarters, but it did not sing again and we had the usual winter birds there...no phoebes, but we heard Red-shouldered Hawk and caught a glimpse of a possible Winter Wren at an old spot up the road from the HQ.  It disappeared and was not refound, so we headed for Castlewood. 
There we saw an adult Red-shouldered Hawk sitting on a limb and tearing at something in its talons.  I thought it was prey, but after it flew to another tree the prey looked more like nesting material.  We could not find its destination.  There was a second hawk calling in the neighborhood.  Our first of the year Fish Crows gave voice, but there were only two or so among the American Crows and they were out of sight range, so we'll confirm later in the spring.  We saw E Bluebirds and Turkey Vultures at both Rockwoods and Castlewood. 
Our car stopped by Powder Valley on the way back to check for woodpeckers, but found only Downies and Red-bellieds.  There were several Pine Siskins with the Goldfinch, lots of Cardinals and a few chickadees and titmice among others...but more birds gathered together than we had seen all day, so it was a cheerful ending.
Here's to the arrival of the advanced spring migration and nesting birds...and the spring flowers.  Green, blue, red and pink will be a nice change from brown and beige everywhere.
Jackie Chain
St Louis County 
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