Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Most of the migrating birds have arrived or passed through our area by now, and there’s a feeling of settling into late Spring’s routines – lots of birdsong in the mornings and activity all day long. The weather is pleasant and sunny, but very dry, so the bird baths are frequently visited. Bluebird and Chickadee babies have fledged, and pursue their parents through the branches of back yard trees, begging insistently to be fed. Several evenings in the past week, in early twilight, we’ve heard a pair of Barred Owls calling from nearby in the woods.

Summer Tanager, Red-eyed Vireo, Great-crested Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher all seem to be nesting somewhere nearby – and I’m still hearing the songs and calls of Scarlet Tanagers in the woods, and hope they may be staying here to nest too. A Wood Thrush sings along one creek near the entrance to the subdivision, and occasionally I can even hear one singing in he woods behind our house. I don’t hear the song of a Louisiana Waterthrush as often as in years past, so I think there may be fewer pairs, but at least we do still hear them occasionally.

Even though we’re lucky to have all of these, there are a few voices absent from our neighborhood this season – or very infrequent at best – and I’m beginning to think they won’t be back this year. We heard the call of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo yesterday evening for the first time, but only that once so far, and although I heard a Wood Peewee sing the morning of May 11, I haven’t heard one since then. I first heard the song of a Chuck Wills Widow the night of May 28, and continue to hear it most nights – but it’s far in the distance and barely audible. In years past, it sang loudly all night long from somewhere very near. So I miss it.

The Yellow-breasted Chats whose hoarse, strange calls have added character to the Old Field for the past several years haven’t shown up yet. There’s only one Indigo Bunting singing in the Old Field, and the two male Blue Grosbeaks that were sparring over territory in early May seem to have disappeared – though maybe they’re just laying low right now.

It’s possible some of the “missing” are here and I just haven’t heard them or am out at the wrong times, and it’s possible they may show up yet – but I’m beginning to think not, and if so, I’ll especially miss the sweet, plaintive song of the Wood Peewee that has graced our shady streets every summer until now, and the dry, exotic “cawp-cawp-cawp” of the Cuckoo. There’s been a lot of development nearby, and clearing along the creeks, leaving less and less habitat available for woodland-loving species.


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