Hermit Thrush in the Morning and a Barred Owl’s Call at Night

Back at home – March has ended with another sunny day, a soft blue sky, cool in the morning, warm by mid afternoon. Early this morning a Brown Thrasher sang from the top of a pecan tree and a Chipping Sparrow drilled its long dry trill from a branch of our red maple tree by the road. An Eastern Towhee sang Drink-your-tea! A Red-bellied Woodpecker called quuurrr, Tufted Titmice sang peter-peter-peter, and Carolina Chickadees chattered chick-a-dee-dee-dee. A couple of quiet American Crows strutted around the front yard. A Blue Jay perched in an oak. A Northern Cardinal, Eastern Bluebird, Pine Warbler, and Carolina Wren also sang.

Some of our winter birds seem to have left – I haven’t seen or heard the flock of Red-winged Blackbirds for several days now – while others still are around, including White-throated Sparrows, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I’m not sure if Golden-crowned Kinglets are still here, but I haven’t seen or heard one in several days.

The best surprise of the day was one of one of my favorite winter birds that I’m happy to have had a chance to see at least one more time before they head north for the summer – a Hermit Thrush. It was feeding on the ground with several Dark-eyed Juncos on the edge of a yard near the roadside. It stood in a grassy spot near a bush, head raised and looking around as it so often is, and I had just a couple of moments to take a good clear look at its brown face with wide round eye – a face so expressive and appealing – and its spotted breast, brown back and cinnamon tail; and then something startled the Juncos, sending them all flying with soft jingling calls into nearby trees, and the Hermit Thrush fled for cover, too.

The young Red-headed Woodpecker was in its usual area, flying from trunk to trunk among the trees, though today it was quiet, not calling. I might remember this year as the Year of the Red-headed Woodpecker, because it’s been a rare visitor here for the winter. I’ve enjoyed being able to hear its rolling, chorry calls most days, and to watch it fly from tree to tree. Its presence has transformed this particular yard and given it a different character, a spirit of a kind.

In a different wooded area, late this morning I heard the distinct long, rolling rattle of a Hairy Woodpecker – a year-round resident here, but one that I’ve seen and heard less often in the past year or two.

This evening after dark, a Barred Owl hooted from somewhere close around our back yard, its full Who-Cooks-for-You-awwwl call, ending the day and the month on a hopeful note.

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