Birding Notes

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

American Redstart – A Colorful Start to Fall Migration

On a warm, cloudy, muggy morning, a lively female American Redstart brought a spark of color to the back deck, fanning her tail and flashing its bright yellow sides as she fluttered around the red blooms of geraniums, competing with two Tufted Titmice. She’s the first migrating warbler I’ve seen this season – though I haven’t been able to be out as often as usual lately, so I’ve almost certainly missed some earlier warblers passing through. Still, she looked like a pretty and promising opening flourish for the fall migration season.

Also this morning, I heard both the song and the calls of a Summer Tanager several times, a Pine Warbler singing as it made its way all around the edges of the woods, and several Carolina Wrens singing different songs back and forth to each other. An Eastern Wood Pewee continues to hunt from trees around the back yard and to give its soft, fall puh-WEE call. Three Brown-headed Nuthatches went from feeders to pine trees and back again, squeaking often. Two Phoebes called tsup, tsup, and a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers, a juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a pair of Downy Woodpeckers all worked steadily in several recently-dead or dying pines near the edge of our woods.

By afternoon, the sky had cleared, with only high, thin white clouds against the blue. Cicadas, grasshoppers and other insects sang loudly. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, male, female and juveniles, chased each other around the feeder, every now and then managing to actually stop for some nectar. A few Chimney Swifts passed overhead. I heard the scream of a soaring Red-tailed Hawk, and the rattle of a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and watched as a female Summer Tanager perched on an oak branch to eat a big fat caterpillar.


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