Birding Notes

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

White-breasted Nuthatch

After a rainy, stormy month, September came to an end today with brisk, sunny, breezy weather, an intense blue sky, not a cloud in sight, and brilliant light. An Eastern Wood-Pewee sang off and on all morning from nearby in the woods, giving its full, sweet, whistled song. The trees are still full with green leaves, only beginning to fade and wither, and few spots of fall color yet –bright red berries on the dogwoods, some shadows of rust and red and amber in vines and shrubs.

Crickets and grasshoppers sing shrill songs. Yellowjackets, restless and pesky, seem to be everywhere. Cicadas have fallen quiet. Early in the night, a few katydids still rattle, but as the temperature falls, they also fall quiet.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice, a Mockingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Carolina Wrens and Brown-headed Nuthatches are the most active birds around the yard – not to mention Cardinals, Blue Jays, Crows and Mourning Doves – and we’ve also been hearing a Pileated Woodpecker and a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers often around the edges of the woods. A Pine Warbler sings. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers call their wheezy spee-spee. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds continue to visit the feeder and late-blooming flowers. Now and then there’s a flicka-flicka-flicka or loud kleer! of a Northern Flicker.

The highlight of this last day of September, though, was hearing the nasal onk-onk calls of a White-breasted Nuthatch from the woods across the street. I also heard these calls a couple of days ago, but haven’t yet seen one. They are not residents here in our neighborhood during the summer, so I don’t know if this one might be just roaming, passing through, or – maybe – staying around for the winter.


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