Birding Notes

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

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Birds In Motion – Variations in the Obvious

Late this morning the sky was a soaring soft blue, marbled with swirling white clouds, and a northwest breeze was stiff and cold – it felt good to be outside and walking. Birds were active everywhere. A Bluebird flashed against a background of drab and faded grass. A Phoebe swooped down to the ground and up to a limb where it quickly bobbed its tail. Yellow-rumped Warblers chased each other in and out of evergreens. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet stuttered as it flew out to the edge of a bush, looking around curiously. House Finches – invisibly perched high up in a tangle of gray-brown branches – whistled long, rambling tunes. Red-bellied Woodpeckers flew in roller-coaster, dipping flight from tree to tree, and a Downy gave its high, cascading whinny. Pine Warblers sang from the edges of the woods.

A vivid Yellow-bellied Sapsucker mewed repeatedly as it hitched and peered around the trunk of a pecan tree, his throat and crown deep crimson. A female, more subdued in her coloring, watched him quietly from the trunk of a nearby tree with interest, but without responding.

Dark-eyed Juncos, Chipping Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows rustled and pecked in leaves on the ground, each moving in a different, distinct sort of way. Juncos peck at the ground, look up and around, and scurry to another spot, often in the direction of where another bird is foraging. Chipping Sparrows appear more calm and casual, often staying in one spot for several seconds or longer – unless startled, when they fly up in a sudden, silvery flash of wings, as if becoming a different bird. It always amazes me how they change so quickly. White-throated Sparrows venture out from beneath the shrubs watchfully and forage methodically, sometimes sitting quietly against the base of a trunk for several minutes, just looking around, diving straight for the bushes when disturbed.

Two warm-yellow Pine Warblers searched for food with several Yellow-rumped Warblers along the sides of the road and on the road itself, littered with leaves and maybe with seeds or insects of some kind. Some of the Yellow-rumped Warblers looked less drab and more spring-like, with bright yellow sides and crisp dark streaks.

A Red-tailed Hawk soared over, wings outstretched, all pale underneath with dark brown band and wing tips, brown head, and dull orange tail. We’re lucky to have a pair that we see almost every day, and I never get tired of watching their flight, especially on a day like today, when it looks majestic, broad wings spread out and lit against the blue sky. A second Red-tailed Hawk flew up from a bank of trees, and the high one screamed, answered by the other.


Post a Comment

<< Home