Birding Notes

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

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sunrise Songs – White-throated Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Phoebe and Carolina Wren

The sunny song of a Carolina Wren just outside our window woke me this morning when the day was barely light, and by 6:45 I was standing on the front porch watching as the trees across the road and up and down the street began to glow orange and gold and red. The foliage here is just about at the peak of fall color, with a chaotic mixture of green, brown, scarlet, rose, wine, coral, copper and yellow and more, speckled and splotched and somehow all blending together into an overall impression of mellow orange.

The sky was perfectly clear gray-blue, the air crisp and cool, and the noise of morning trucks and cars on Highway 441 more than a mile away was very loud, much louder than usual, but for some reason it didn’t seem to spoil the peaceful early morning feeling around the yard and the woods.

A Carolina Wren sang again from the edge of the woods, and White-throated Sparrows called tseet from shrubs and bushes. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet stuttered as it traveled through the low branches. Cardinals peeped. Then I was surprised to hear the exuberant song of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a quick, high cascade of whistled notes – I’m not sure I’ve ever heard one sing at this time of year before, though maybe it’s not uncommon. It’s a familiar song we often hear in the spring before they leave for the summer.

Bluebirds called from somewhere down the street, Crows cawed as they flew over, Robins also flew over in small groups and two or three squeaked in the trees nearby. Two Mockingbirds screeched out their harsh morning calls, Goldfinches called potato-chip, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker mewed. Then a White-throated Sparrow sang – the most beautiful song of the morning, sweet and plaintive, and so nice to hear again after it’s been gone for several months, a reminder that fall and even winter months don’t necessarily mean the absence of birdsong here.

Two Phoebes called tsup, and another Carolina Wren sang chura-REEEchender-REEEchender-REEchendre-churrrr, one of a wide variety of songs, calls and fussing sounds the wrens liven up the days with.

Three Bluebirds flew over, making soft burbling calls and glowing rose in the sunlight. I think the sun was surely up by now, though I couldn’t see it through the trees, and could only see a flood of red-orange along the eastern horizon. I heard the rattle of a distant Red-bellied Woodpecker, two Phoebes singing back and forth, two more White-throated Sparrows singing, and a Towhee calling To-whee from way down the street.

Chickadees and Titmice arrived in the trees around the feeders around 7:15, fussing and chattering, and two Mourning Doves flew in a nervous flutter to the ground below the feeders. Then I heard the high ti-ti-ti calls of Golden-crowned Kinglets in the leaves of the water oaks overhead, and the cry of a Red-shouldered Hawk in the east, out of sight beyond the line of trees, just before I went inside for breakfast.


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