Birding Notes

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

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Blue-headed Vireo Singing

It’s been a beautiful spring weekend, with blue skies, off and on some clouds, and lots of birdsong, especially early in the mornings. I still have not seen or heard many returning migrants, but both yesterday and this morning a Blue-headed Vireo sang from the edge of the woods. It stayed frustratingly just a little too far away to see among the new-green leaves of water oaks and sweet gums.

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers called speee all around the yard, and a Northern Parula continued to sing its buzzy song nearby in the woods. At least three or four Chipping Sparrows trilled from perches in shrubs and trees, and their songs are among my favorites right now. Although a Chipping Sparrow’s song is usually described as a monotone trill, it seems to me that no two of them sing quite alike at this time of year. Some are looser, some faster, some lighter in quality, more airy, some more forceful, some even almost musical.

Phoebe, Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Titmouse, Chickadee, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Robin and Ruby-crowned Kinglet have been among the other morning singers, with the calls of Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and the cries of a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks. The Mockingbirds in our yard sing now and then, but not much yet.

And we still have a good many winter residents. One female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker continued to tap into the pecan trees around the front yard all day yesterday and today. Yellow-rumped Warblers creep through the branches of the trees, gleaning insects from the catkins and small new leaves, calling check! and now and then singing a few loose, pretty notes. Dark-eyed Juncos feed quietly around the bushes, only making soft jingles when they are startled into flying up into a tree.

About a dozen Cedar Waxwings still come back to visit the Savannah hollies for red berries every day. They must not eat many of them at a time. They move in silently, one at a time, materializing like shadows above me, lurking in the branches for a while, then whispering tzeeeeee calls before moving into the hollies.


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