Birding Notes

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Blue Grosbeak in Old Field

This morning, for the first time this season, I heard a Blue Grosbeak singing in the old field. The warbled high notes of its song cut through the traffic noise of the highway below, though just barely. It was hard to hear anything else but trucks and cars and SUVs.

I found the Grosbeak low, going from spot to spot in pokeweed and other ragged shrubs and stopping to sing along the way. His intensely blue plumage and big silver beak stood out brightly. He swished his tail from side to side, and now and then called a hard metallic chink! He was one of the most brilliantly colored Blue Grosbeaks I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if the color was all in the bird or the early morning light or a combination of both, but he looked uncommonly clear, fresh, sunlit blue.

He kept moving and I lost him in the thickets, then found him again, singing from the top of a small chinaberry tree half covered in kudzu vines. From there, too, he looked very colorful.

Meanwhile, a Red-tailed Hawk sat on a pole overlooking the highway. Mockingbirds and Towhees sang. Three Brown Thrashers preened in the upper branches of ragged shrubs. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and a Downy Woodpecker called from the shade of the clustered pines, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird zipped over the tops of the weeds and grasses. The purple thistles have almost all gone to seed, the grasses look faded and yellow, all the shrubs and vines look baked and curled by the heat, and the big white flowers of wild potato-vines splotch the shaggy grasses in the power cut.


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