Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow

This morning the high thin ti-ti-ti calls of Golden-crowned Kinglets moved through the tops of pines and oaks on the edge of the back yard. With a layer of shining white clouds covering the sun in the background, the tiny birds high up in the trees were almost impossible to see, but I caught broken glimpses of one small gray bird, with its black-and-white striped face and golden crown and white specks of wingbars as it flitted quickly through the branches.

I heard their calls two days ago for the first time this season, and today brought two more new arrivals of winter birds – a Ruby-crowned Kinglet chattered jidit-jidit in the thickets around a corner at the end of our street. And in the old field just outside the neighborhood, the whistled Oh sweet Canada song of a White-throated Sparrow rose above a loud roar and rush of traffic.

It has seemed to me that winter birds have been very slow in returning this year, though maybe I’m just impatient, as always. These last few days of October have been quiet, though warm and sunny, colorful autumn days with showers of leaves drifting down gradually, and brown leaves beginning to pile up on the ground. Fall foliage has changed the light from green to orange and gold, with a kaleidoscope of colors all around in yellow, scarlet, coral, wine, rose, ochre, tan and chestnut, and more.

The writing spider that hung in its web outside my office window for 15 days is gone now. It disappeared after our first hard freeze and heavy frost about a week ago. The remains of its web with the thick white writing still hang outside the screen, and a few curled black shells of insects lie on the window ledge.

Since then, warm weather has returned, and today has seemed the perfect last day of October – if anything, a little too warm, in the upper 70s. Crickets and grasshoppers are singing again, and I’ve even seen a few small orange and yellow butterflies. A soft blue sky is veiled in clouds, with more clouds moving in and rain in the forecast for the night and for tomorrow. There’s a dreamy, dusky-orange light, and it’s breezy, with lots of leaves tumbling and showering down.

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