Birding Notes

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Pine Warbler’s Song

After several days in the snowy mountains of the West, we’ve returned to balmy, spring-like weather here – and to the musical trill of a Pine Warbler’s song, brightening up the gray winter woods with color. Daffodils are blooming, and along with the Pine Warbler, Cardinals, House Finches, Carolina Wrens and Phoebes are singing, and even the birds that aren’t singing seem to be more vocal. So the quiet of winter, marked with the individual voices of winter birds, already is giving way to the more complex, varied sounds of earliest spring.

Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Eastern Towhees, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and lots of Goldfinches and Yellow-rumped Warblers all are active around the yard. This morning, a Brown Thrasher sat preening in the wax myrtles, a Robin hunted in the grass, and two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers tapped steadily on the trunks of pecan trees. A pair of Downy Woodpeckers also worked in the trees around the house, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker called from nearby. Two dozen Cedar Waxwings settled in the bare branches of an oak.

A large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds was spread out noisily up and down the road late this afternoon, mostly in the treetops. There were at least a few Common Grackles among them, and may have been other Blackbirds, but most of those I could see or hear were Red-wings – and their songs, too, sound like spring on the way.

But the real highlight of the day has been the Pine Warbler and its song. I watched one for a few minutes this morning, its deep yellow throat and breast glowing as it crept over a gray, lichen-covered branch. Then it paused and lifted up its head to sing – and its whole body vibrated with the trill.


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