More Arrivals – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and White-throated Sparrow

Late this morning birds were so active that I counted 16 species even before leaving our own front yard for a walk. It was a warm, sunny day with fall colors all around. The first highlight was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker flying from tree to tree and testing the trunks and large branches – in pecan trees, not the oaks. It was the first I’ve seen here this season, a juvenile, with all its markings muted, brownish with blurred white barring on the back, and a thick white stripe down the wing, and no red showing in crown or throat.

Others birds in the yard included several Mourning Doves under the feeder, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, an Eastern Phoebe calling tsup, Blue Jay, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet singing again, in the wax myrtles, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Mockingbird, several Yellow-rumped Warblers flying in and out of the river birches, Eastern Towhee, and Northern Cardinal.

In another part of the neighborhood, several minutes later, two White-throated Sparrows were foraging in rough weedy grass and scrubby privet along the side of the road. For several days I’ve been hearing the tsseeet calls of White-throated Sparrows, but this is the first time I’ve seen them this season. These two were quiet, and appeared to be juveniles, their colors and markings less crisp and well-defined than an adult – plump brown-streaked sparrows, with striped crown and an indistinct white throat – but they weren’t skittish, and let me get quite close and watch them for several minutes. Further up the road, a few high, sweet, whistled notes rose from the tall grass and shrubs of a meadow-like yard, a partial song from another White-throated Sparrow. It’s good to have them back.

An even greater surprise was a Great Blue Heron that flew up from the old field along the highway and out across the power cut. I see one here occasionally, though not often, usually flying over.

A Hairy Woodpecker gave several sharp, emphatic peenk calls in the woods. Several Turkey Vultures and one Red-shouldered Hawk soared; a Pileated Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch and three or four Northern Flickers called; a House Finch sang, and two Chipping Sparrows flew up into low branches from a grassy yard.

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