Scarlet Tanager and Indigo Bunting

The month of April drifted to a quiet end with several days of picture-perfect warm, sunny weather and gentle blue skies. A very few more summer birds arrived, or passed through in migration, including one Scarlet Tanager, whose distinct chick-brrrr calls and harsh song I heard one morning, from too far back in the woods to see; and a Gray Catbird whistling its awkward but intriguing song, and mewing a raspy call in the same water oaks where I often found a pair last summer. One morning two Northern Rough-winged Swallows swooped low over the trees and road near our house – the first Rough-winged Swallows I’ve ever seen here in our neighborhood, though they’re common throughout the U.S. in summer.

In the old field, a Common Yellowthroat warbled its rolling wichety-wichety-wichety song from somewhere very deep in the thickets of privet and vines. It’s almost certainly a migrant passing through because, for the past several years, I’ve occasionally heard one singing here, but only during spring or fall. They don’t usually stay for the summer. Though the small bright-yellow birds with a jaunty black mask like a shrubby, tangled habitat like this, they more often prefer somewhat wetter conditions, like lowlands or wetlands, with water somewhere nearby.

Also in the field, an Indigo Bunting arrived, and has been chanting its cheery sweet-sweet-chew-chew-sweet-sweet from perches in the very tops of small, scraggly trees or large bushes, often along the edge of the power-cut. It’s a tiny little dot of intense indigo-blue, persistently singing its sparkling, bouncing song over and over, notes of impossible beauty almost lost against the background noise of traffic on the highway nearby.

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