Hoping for a Hermit Thrush

October is coming to an end with a string of warm, sunny, colorful days, with trees and all the vegetation now turning red, orange, yellow and brown. Leaves drift down in almost constant showers, and many acorns and pecans are falling – it’s a good year for both, and squirrels are working overtime and everywhere.

Eastern Phoebes, Carolina Wrens and Eastern Bluebirds sing. Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Northern Cardinals and Downy Woodpeckers come and go from the feeder, while Mourning Doves pick up seeds underneath. Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatches and White-breasted Nuthatches are usually around; Crows and Blue Jays, always. Northern Mockingbirds quietly patrol, except for an occasional loud, harsh call. Brown Thrashers and Eastern Towhees forage under the shrubs, and sometimes venture out.

Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures soar, and several times I’ve seen a Cooper’s Hawk, soaring or flying low nearby. Small flocks of American Robins fly over, and rustle in the treetops with squeaking calls. Northern Flickers punctuate quieter days with kleer calls.

It’s been a month of arrivals and departures. We saw the last two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at our feeder October 16. Now winter residents have returned and begun to settle in – Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and White-throated Sparrows – bringing changes to the soundscape that echo the seasonal changes in color, activity, weather and mood. I’ve heard the high, thin calls of Cedar Waxwings several times in the past few days, but so far haven’t seen them. The ank-ank calls of a Red-breasted Nuthatch have so far always been in the distance, and I haven’t seen one yet.

And I’m hoping for a Hermit Thrush.

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