On a Warm, Foggy Morning, the Songs of Red-eyed Vireos and an Indigo Bunting

At 7:00 this morning, when I stepped outside, our yard and street were shrouded in a warm gray fog. Two Red-eyed Vireos sang from different directions in the woods nearby. After listening for a minute or two, I started down the steps and ran face-first into a spider web strung between the two big shrubs on either side of the porch. Combing sticky strands of silk away from my eyes and nose and hair, I walked on up the driveway, without binoculars today, and ducked under the heavy, wet, low-hanging branches of crape myrtles, the ground and pavement beneath them scattered with white petals, washed down by yesterday’s rain. The sun was up, but not yet visible behind the fog and clouds.

An Eastern Phoebe sang, an Eastern Towhee called, Northern Cardinals peeped. Crows strutted around grassy yards and cawed and croaked. Several Eastern Bluebirds sang – four perched in the bare top branches of one pecan tree, waiting to welcome the sun. An Acadian Flycatcher sang a sharp WHEET-sit from the woods along a creek. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher called its raspy spee from the thickets of trees and vines around a corner where they usually are, and a Great Crested Flycatcher called whreep from a big Red Oak.

The morning seemed very quiet, no sounds of traffic or people, maybe muffled by the fog, with my own footsteps sounding on the pavement. Crickets chirped. A lone cicada buzzed as it flew a long distance from tree to tree – it looked more like a hurtle than a flight, a desperate plunge from one spot to another.

Up a steep hill in a wooded stretch, Tufted Titmice fussed their day-day-day; Carolina Chickadees sang a more relaxed fee-bee, fee-bay. A Downy Woodpecker whinnied. A Carolina Wren sang – and another sang in response. Several Carolina Wrens trilled, burbled and buzzed. At this time of year they always seem to become more vocal, as other birds become more quiet, and their songs on a morning like this are especially musical, expressive and welcome.  Two Brown-headed Nuthatches chattered high in some pines. One White-breasted Nuthatch called a nasal awnk-awnk from further away. An American Goldfinch called as it flew over.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker rattled and chucked. A Summer Tanager called pik-a-tuk from the leaves of a tall tulip poplar. Mourning Doves cooed. A Northern Flicker whistled a loud kleer! At the crest of the hill, several Crows noisily cawed and croaked and flew from spot to spot among some trees. I couldn’t find a hawk, but suspect there might have been one hidden there. A quiet Northern Mockingbird perched in its usual large, rambling bush along a wooden fence, where I’m pretty sure a pair of Mockingbirds has had a nest. A Chipping Sparrow trilled a long, level summer song from a low branch of a tree in a large yard. Several American Robins were scattered out in the grass below.

Just outside our subdivision, an Indigo Bunting chanted its sweet-sweet, chew-chew, sweet-sweet from the top of a dead tree on the edge of the power cut that runs through the old field. I could barely see it, and not its color at all – just a tiny dark dot. Eastern Towhees called chur-whee. A White-eyed Vireo sang. Mockingbirds and Mourning Doves perched on the wires. Though often there’s a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on one of the poles overlooking the highway below, the poles were all empty this morning. Fog hung over the highway, and cars and trucks streamed by with headlights shining.

Late in the morning the day became sunny and clear, with a bright blue sky and rain-green trees. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds came often to the feeder that hangs from the deck out back.

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