A Scarcity of Birds

October came to an end with a beautiful, moody day; cool and gray, with high, variegated clouds and muted fall colors all around, leaves drifting and showering down. The air has felt chilly and damp, and rain is expected later tonight.

On a walk through the neighborhood late this morning, the most noticeable birds were lots of American Robins, some flying over in flocks, and others scattered out in grassy yards and perched in trees. At least four White-throated Sparrows sang in the old field by the highway.

And so this month of October ends with a continuing scarcity of birds here – at least, far fewer birds than usual in previous years. The most conspicuous missing bird so far this fall is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, but others have also been scarce – maybe just later arriving, as I hope.

A complete species list of birds seen or heard during this last week of October includes Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Cooper’s Hawk (seen twice in flight), Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker (there do seem to be several around this year), Pileated Woodpecker (one heard a few times, not seen), Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet (I’ve heard their high calls often), Ruby-crowned Kinglet (have also heard their stuttering calls several times now), Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwings (one small flock), Yellow-rumped Warbler (just a very few; I hear their chip calls and sometimes catch a glimpse of the flashing yellow rump), Pine Warbler (singing their musical trills), Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow (quite a few around now, though not large numbers), White-throated Sparrow (at least a few, not many yet), Northern Cardinal, Brown-headed Cowbird (about three dozen seen this morning perched in trees; these are the only blackbirds at all so far this season), and House Finch.

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