Summer Birds

Though early July has been very hot, and birds have seemed relatively quiet on most days, today I kept an informal count for the first time in a while, and was surprised to find at the end of the day a total of 47 species. Most of these are species I usually hear or see, and would expect to find here on an ordinary summer day, not unusual sightings.

The Cooper’s Hawk is an exception. I have seen them only a few times this summer, including this morning, when a juvenile flew out of a low tree into a bush close to a house, just as I was walking past. The hawk stayed for several seconds, standing on the ground, mostly hidden in the bush but with its tail sticking out. Then it backed out, looked around and flew. It did not seem to be carrying anything.

Most of the species listed below I saw or heard along a walk through our neighborhood early this morning. Both Black and Turkey Vultures I did not see until later in the day, and though one Ruby-throated Hummingbird did zip past as I was walking, I saw them far more often at home during the rest of the day, coming and going frequently from the feeder on our back deck.

Among our most interesting summer birds are Red-shouldered Hawks – their kee-yer calls are frequently heard, and I’ve often been surprised by the sudden quiet rush of their wings as one flies suddenly from a perch low in a wooded area as I walk by; Yellow-billed Cuckoo, whose dry, echoing cawp-cawp-cawp calls are one of our most characteristic summer sounds; Acadian Flycatcher, calling a crisp wheet-sit from down around a creek; Great Crested Flycatcher – a pair continues to come to sunbathe on our back deck most days; White-eyed Vireo, its percussive chick-a-perioo-chick is one of the most consistent songs in the dense, weedy thickets of the old field; Wood Thrush, singing so very beautifully from a low, wooded area near the creek; Gray Catbird – this morning one was singing a hesitant and strangely pretty series of gurgling phrases and whistles from somewhere in a large, bushy stand of shrubs at the head of a driveway.

Black-and-white Warblers sang this morning in at least three different places, their high, sweet weesa-weesa-weesa. One or two sang here all through the month of May, then I didn’t hear or see one again until July 6 – and they’ve been singing again each day since then. Louisiana Waterthrush whistle their anthems early in the morning near the creek; a Blue Grosbeak – though I rarely hear or see one in the old field along the highway this summer, there’s one that sings in a large, meadow-like yard in the neighborhood with lots of shrubs, widely-spaced trees and tall grasses. And an Indigo Bunting sits almost every morning in the top of a tree or tall shrub in the old field, a tiny dot of deep, intense blue, chanting sweet-sweet, chew-chew, sweet-sweet against a noisy background of highway traffic.

The following is a very informal list, and I may well have missed some species, but these are the ones I have seen or heard most days in early July (plus the Cooper’s Hawk).

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Mourning Dove

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Acadian Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

White-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Blue Jay

American Crow

Barn Swallow

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

Brown-headed Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren

House Wren

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Eastern Bluebird

Wood Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

Brown Thrasher

European Starling

Pine Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Louisiana Waterthrush

Summer Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Eastern Towhee

Chipping Sparrow

Northern Cardinal

Blue Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting

House Finch

American Goldfinch

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