Song of a Yellow-throated Vireo

As May begins to drift toward an end with warm, sunny days of blue skies and white clouds – and a couple of days of good rain – the first few cicadas have begun to sing, and fireflies flash over the grass and among the dark shrubs at twilight. Two Yellow-throated Vireos continue to sing; one in the woods around our house and yard, the other in another wooded part of the neighborhood, about a half a mile away. This morning I stopped to listen to a Yellow-throated Vireo somewhere in the tops of several tall sweet gum trees. It sang and sang its burry, ringing, full-throated song, with frequent three-eight phrases, but stayed hidden among the leaves. Though I never could see it, and could only imagine the bright yellow throat and breast, white wingbars, olive-green head and face, and yellow spectacles, the song itself was just as richly colorful and expressed.

Later in the afternoon, with a clearing sky after a sudden, brief rain shower, two juvenile Red-bellied Woodpeckers made wheezy calls, fluttered their wings and were fed by both parents in pines on the edge of the yard.

A Great Crested Flycatcher flew into this same area of pines, lit by the low sun, and sat on an open branch facing our way, with the sun lighting its lemon-yellow belly and long, cinnamon tail, and big, handsome gray head. Thunder still rumbled in the east, remnants of the rain that had passed through, and there were dark blue clouds all around on the horizon, but also brilliant sunlight coming through the clouds in the west and pouring through the leaves of the oaks, so the shifting light and shadows all around looked softly dramatic, like a watercolor painting in motion.

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