Blue Grosbeak and Common Yellowthroat

The first half of May has continued to bring unusually cool, fresh, sunny weather, but I wonder if today will be the last in our string of such mild spring days. The morning began with temperatures in the low 40s and warmed up to the low 60s by noon. Perfect. It felt wonderful. The sky was a clear, cloudless blue, the sun bright, the trees and grass in many shades of green.

So it’s been gorgeous weather – but with very few birds. It hasn’t been a Silent Spring here – but it certainly has been much quieter than usual. By now, with migration season almost at an end, I still have heard or seen very few neotropical migrant birds here in our neighborhood, either passing through or returning for the summer. This is unusual.

But this morning there were some highlights – including two gracefully soaring Red-tailed Hawks, rising together in a slow, easy, spiraling climb in a deep blue sky; a colorful Blue Grosbeak singing from the top of a pecan tree; and a Common Yellowthroat singing its exuberant wichity-wichity-wichity from somewhere hidden in a hedge of shrubs.

The Common Yellowthroat sang from a brushy area of a large yard that’s a mix of tall grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees – beautiful habitat. It’s a small roundish bird with a bright-yellow throat and upper breast, and a broad, rakish black mask over its eyes. It’s almost always found in low, thick, dense vegetation, not far from the ground. I had no chance of seeing it because I didn’t want to intrude on the yard, so I just stood and listened for a while, enjoying its song – which has always sounded to me a little richer and more golden, less sibilant, more like gregory-gregory-gregory than the way it’s usually described – but that’s in the ear of the listener.

A White-eyed Vireo and Eastern Towhees sang in the field, and though I think most of the White-throated Sparrows have left us now for the north, there was one sweet, full, whistled song of a White-throated Sparrow still here. Most of the Yellow-rumped Warblers also are gone – and I think the Pine Siskins finally have left us, too, though they stayed much later in the year than usual. I last heard them here a week ago, May 7.

Chimney Swifts swept overhead, and I heard the spee-spee calls of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and the very distant wheet-sit of one Acadian Flycatcher – but do not think I heard a single Red-eyed Vireo all morning.

Most of the usual suspects were active – Pine Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Chipping Sparrows, many Eastern Bluebirds, a Red-shouldered Hawk calling behind a line of trees, Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, House Wren, House Finch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, American Goldfinch, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Crows and the European Starlings that have become common in the area of the neighborhood closest to the entrance.

Leave a Reply