Birding Notes

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

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Home – Late Summer – Blue Grosbeak, Red-tailed Hawk, Gray Catbird

Back home in Georgia, today was hot, humid and sunny, with lots of big milky-white clouds growing larger and more towering as the day went on, and cicadas singing loudly. On a morning walk to check things out, I found birds still pretty quiet, but counted 28 species in all. The highlight was a still-colorful Blue Grosbeak singing energetically from the top of a small tree in a kudzu-draped thicket across the road from the old field.

Other highlights included a pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches squeaking and flying from tree to tree; a Gray Catbird low in a bush, raising its tail to show the red-orange undertail coverts which I rarely notice; and three Red-tailed Hawks – one soaring, two perched in treetops and screaming back and forth to each other.

Around our house and others, there were the usual yard birds – Titmouse, Chickadee, Cardinal, Goldfinch and a few scattered Blue Jays. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were busy around our feeder and flowering plants, and others zoomed past me as I walked – it seems to be a good year for them here. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers called spee from bushes and trees. Bluebirds seemed very quiet and mostly out of sight. I only heard the short warbles of two or three.

A Chipping Sparrow gave one long dry trill from a small pine, and others foraged in the grass. Phoebes hunted quietly from low branches in shady yards. One distant Red-eyed Vireo sang in the woods, and several Carolina Wrens sang or trilled or fussed. One Great-crested Flycatcher called whreep. Crows cawed, Mourning Doves cooed, a few Red-bellied Woodpeckers rattled. Downy Woodpeckers were pretty quiet but now and then called a quick pink! Eastern Towhees called che-wink. One House Finch sang a few cheery notes and others gave plaintive bleeps as they flew.

Quiet Mockingbirds sat on wires over the field, no longer singing. But a White-eyed Vireo continued to call chick-a-perioo-chick! from the faded, tangled weeds.

Three Turkey Vultures and one Black Vulture soared, and two widely separated Chimney Swifts flew silently over.

Conspicuously missing were Robins – when we left in late July, I usually saw several scattered around grassy yards; Barn Swallows – I think maybe they’ve left the area where they nested; and Brown Thrasher, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager and Acadian Flycatcher – I’m pretty sure all of these are still around, but more quiet now. I did hear some short, hoarse cawps from the woods that may or may not have been a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.


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