Birding Notes

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

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Summer Day: Northern Flickers, Busy Bluebird Parents, Phoebes Hunting in the Shade

It was another in a string of very hot, humid days – typical for August in Georgia – with hazy, bleached-blue sky and temperatures in the upper 90s by mid afternoon. Cicadas, grasshoppers and other insects sing all day, and katydids and crickets sing all night. Most of the woodland birds are pretty quiet. I last heard the call of an Acadian Flycatcher July 29, but they might still be around. A Blue Grosbeak continues to sing in the Old Field along Highway 441, occasionally there’s an Indigo Bunting singing in a vacant lot along the loop road in our neighborhood, and there’s a pair of Northern Flickers that I’ve seen every morning for the past week in one of the big shady yards. Usually they’re hunting in the grass beneath the pecan trees, or in the early morning they perch in a bare branch at the top of a pecan and bask in the morning sun.

Our Bluebird couple is feeding babies in its second nest of the season – the first was successful, with at least two healthy juveniles – and I’m just hoping they’ll survive this heat wave. Both male and female Bluebird make frequent trips to the bluebird house with food. This morning I watched as the male Bluebird perched in a low branch near the nest house for several minutes, holding an insect in its beak. Finally, the female Bluebird flew from somewhere down to the grass, picked up something there and then flew directly into the bluebird house. The male followed her and clung to the outside of the house, poking his head inside the entrance. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see exactly what occurred, but after just a minute or two, the male flew, and then the female flew out too.

Off and on throughout the day, I heard the voices of Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Great-crested Flycatcher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Chimney Swifts, Goldfinch, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Carolina Wren, Chickadees, Titmice, Cardinals, occasional Blue Jays, Crows, and the coos and whistling wings of Mourning Doves. Phoebes hunt from low branches around our yard, and both birdbaths stay busy all day long.


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