An Indigo Bunting on the Summer Solstice

The first day of summer brought a break in the rain, with a sunny blue sky, huge white clouds and warm, humid weather. The day began with the whreeep of a Great Crested Flycatcher hunting from trees around the back yard. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds already were coming and going from the feeder as early as I looked outside.

Late in the morning when I went out for a walk, a Brown Thrasher flew to the top of a pecan tree and began to sing, and all along the way many other birds also were singing, maybe welcoming the sun. Most were our year-round residents – Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal and Chipping Sparrow – whose sweet, level trills sounded especially bright and cheerful. Eastern Towhee, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Eastern Phoebe, House Finch – all were singing.

From the woods came the musical trill of a Pine Warbler. Brown-headed Nuthatches chattered in the pines. American Goldfinches flashed like tiny yellow lights as they flew over. Mourning Doves cooed. Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker and even one Hairy Woodpecker called.  Three Chimney Swifts twittered as they swept overhead. As usual, there were plenty of active and vocal Blue Jays and American Crows – but today, no hawks, no vultures. Maybe I was just out at the wrong time to see them.

A pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers called a whispery spee-spee from a tangle of vines and privet on the edge of the woods. An Acadian Flycatcher gave a sharp pit-sah from down near the creek. A Summer Tanager and a Red-eyed Vireo sang in different parts of the woods, and a Scarlet Tanager sang from near the top of a large Red Oak, where I could just barely make out its fiery red and black plumage.

Long before I got to the old field that stretches along the highway, I began to hear the sweet-sweet, chew-chew, sweet-sweet chant of an Indigo Bunting. It’s not the first time I’ve heard one here this season, but it’s not been here every day, just now and then. Today it was singing from the top of a small tree on the edge of the power cut that runs through the field – a tiny, intensely blue spot of a bird, an exclamation point of brilliance on the first day of summer.

A White-eyed Vireo also sang in the field, from a hidden spot in the weedy thickets. Cicadas, grasshoppers and other insects whined and buzzed and chirped, but no butterflies. A dragonfly zipped over.

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