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I spent today in Barton for Draft Animal Power Days. I was sitting on bleachers at an open-sided barn when I kept hearing a sharp “chick! spik!” noise. There were a few birds near a puddle on the ground outside the horse pen, including one or two Song Sparrows and a Phoebe – and two mystery birds, one of which was making the noise. The unknowns had dark greenish heads and backs, pale wing bars, and very white lines over the eyes. They were doing quite a lot of tail flicking. Then the two birds flew up into the rafters of the open barn, energetically chasing insects and behaving like hyperactive swallows. From below, I saw that one had strong dark stripes on the sides and pale yellow under the tail. (I didn’t have binoculars but the birds in the rafters were within 8’ of my face.) After a few minutes, the two flew back to the ground and then one perched briefly on a chainlink fence. In flight, it looked like one might have had a yellow rump and a two-tone tail, mostly dark with two white ovals. I took a lot of notes and just read them over – and the notes match nothing! The best I can come up with is the elusive Yellow-Rumped Palm Waterthrush Swallow.

I suppose it’s possible that there were more birds than I thought and I was unwittingly noting characteristics of different ones. But I was sure I followed the original two up into the rafters. The barn seems an odd place for any warblers, but I can’t think of any other possibility. I welcome any and all suggestions!

Maeve Kim
Jericho Center