Golden-crowned Kinglet and Red-breasted Nuthatch – A Busy Morning in the Yard

On a cool, clear, sunny morning, traffic was busy around both of the feeders in the front yard. For a while, it looked like planes waiting to land at a major airport – several Chickadees and Titmice lined up in the nearby branches, one by one darting onto the tube feeder, grabbing a bite and flying away before the next one flew in for its turn. After a few minutes, the game seemed to be over, and three or four at once began to share the space again. But there was still a lot of coming and going.

A pair of Downy Woodpeckers worked on branches of the pecans, a turkey vulture soared lazily in a deep, open blue sky, and I heard the song of a Blue-headed Vireo again, this time singing in the woods. Then I noticed a short-tailed, long-billed, short-necked bird among all the others on the feeder – a Red-breasted Nuthatch. It’s the first one I’ve seen at our feeders, and I watched it come and go for half an hour or more. Most of its visits were quick. It flew in directly, grabbed a bite and flew straight away toward somewhere around the corner of the house. Once, though, it paused on a branch in full sunlight, which made all its colors glow, especially the ruddy-red breast, blue back and bright black and white eye stripes. It was silent. I didn’t hear its call all morning. After a while, it began to stay longer on the feeder, sharing it with the Chickadees and Titmice, but always on the tray at the bottom, not on any of the perches. Our resident Brown-headed Nuthatches almost always fly to the chain that’s holding the feeder and work their way down, head first.

Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers called, and one made a visit to the block-feeder. Small acorns showered down in breezes. Most of the trees are still green, though they’re beginning to look a little thin, and to show hints of fall color here and there. There were no calls of White-throated Sparrows. There didn’t seem to be a single one around, and I wondered if the ones that were here earlier in the week have moved on further South. But I did hear the stuttering call of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and caught a glimpse of its white-ringed eye as it moved quickly from spot to spot in the wax myrtles.

A very small, active bird appeared in the low branches of a water oak just above me – and turned out to be a Golden-crowned Kinglet, our first one of the season here. It moved quietly through the leaves, showing its bright white wing bar, black and white stripes around the eyes and head – and a sliver of yellow-gold on the top of its head. Later in the day, I heard its call – or maybe the call of another – a very high, needle-thin see-see-see.

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