A White-throated Sparrow’s Song

After yesterday’s all-day dark clouds, rain, and falling temperatures, this morning dawned bright, crisp, sunny – and cold. As sunlight moved over grassy yards, swirls of mist rose like fog. Dozens of filmy, fairy-like grass-spider webs lay scattered over yards and roadsides, sparkling with dew. Only a few stray white clouds streaked a clear, soft-blue sky.

From a bank of tall shrubs behind a neighbor’s house, the clear, whistled song of a White-throated Sparrow spiraled into the air – oh sweet Canada, Can-a-da. This was the first song of a White-throated Sparrow I’ve heard this season, and it was very welcome. It seems to me they’re late this year. From a distance, I could see three or four plump sparrows with clean white throats darting in and out of the bushes. They weren’t close enough to see too clearly or well. Though these are the first ones I’ve found, I think some almost certainly have been around for a while, and I just haven’t been out at the right time or place. The singing sparrow sang several times, lifting the notes high and slow, letting each one linger in the air and fade away.

In the Old Field, two Song Sparrows flitted in and out of dense privet bushes, twitching their long tails nervously. One paused for several moments on a tall, sunlit stem of grass to preen – and maybe to dry and warm.

Walking on, I passed two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in different spots, both working intently on the trunks of pecan trees; several Chipping Sparrows feeding along the roadside and flying up into low branches when startled; several Ruby-crowned Kinglets, fussing jidiit-jidit; a few Golden-crowned Kinglets much higher up in the trees, and difficult to see, though I could hear their ti-ti-ti calls; two White-breasted Nuthatches creeping up the trunks of trees; and about a half dozen widely scattered Yellow-rumped Warblers, calling out dry chips as they moved through the trees. Eastern Phoebes sang, called tsup, and perched in the tops of treetops. A flashy pair of Eastern Towhees called chur-whee! from the tangle of privet and vines, moving in and out of the leaves.

Later, about a mile away, in a low, cool, wooded spot in a much different kind of area, I was listening and watching for small birds when a Red-shouldered Hawk suddenly came gliding fast out of the trees on one side of the road, across the road low, just barely ahead of me, and into the trees on the other side, and out of sight. It held its broad wings firmly outspread the whole way, and its tail folded narrow and long, making its shape look solid and very sleek. In the deep shade of this spot, the rich colors of its breast and wings and back showed up only in a fleeting glimpse. It was there, and gone, almost before I could breathe.

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