Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting and Gray Catbird

By mid-morning the sun felt very hot, bleaching the sky as it climbed. Chipping Sparrows trilled their songs from trees along the roadside. Mourning Doves cooed. Three Chimney Swifts twittered as they flew over and swooped down close to a roof. As I walked down the road, I heard a scattering of calls from the usual suspects – a few Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, several Carolina Wrens, two Brown-headed Nuthatches, a White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Northern Mockingbird and several House Wrens and House Finches singing, and many Eastern Bluebirds, some sitting in the tops of trees, facing the morning sun. I didn’t hear a single Red-eyed Vireo – one of our summer birds that used to be so common here, but now I seldom find. But one Yellow-throated Vireo was singing high up in the foliage of trees around the edge of a neighbor’s yard. They, too, have become much less common here, so it’s been good to hear this one’s mellow, burry phrases for the past several days.

In the hazy, blue and white sky, two Mississippi Kites seemed to appear out of nowhere. They were high, but not too high to see well – the smooth gray color, and ash-white head, and white in part of the long, gray wings. I watched as they circled several times, gradually climbing, watching their quiet, graceful flight, the clean, sharp lines, the tilt of the dark, fanned tail just as one passed low over my head. Sailing, gliding, buoyant – they rose higher and higher, and finally soared away toward the South, over the trees and out of sight. 

When I came to the entrance of our subdivision, oh my! A Blue Grosbeak sat in the very top of a tall pecan tree, singing. A richly colorful bird with a richly colorful song – deep, ink-blue, with orange-brown bars in the wings and a big silver bill that glinted in the sun, the Grosbeak lifted its head and warbled a shining cascade of notes that rose and fell. 

Just across the road, in the large, overgrown old field that hides the view – though not the sound – of a busy highway below, a tiny Indigo Bunting also sang. Perched in the top of one of the tallest pines on one side of a power cut, the small, bird-shaped dot of brilliant blue chanted its sweet-sweet-chew-chew-sweet-sweet over and over again. Apparently undaunted by the constant growling roar of traffic. 

Two White-eyed Vireos repeated chik-per-chickory-chik in the field from hidden spots deep in the thickets, along with the notes of Eastern Towhees, Carolina Wrens, and a Northern Mockingbird sitting on a wire. A sparkling, silvery Blue-gray Gnatcatcher flitted and hovered in and out of the weeds, catching insects. And a little further on, on a street of neatly-manicured lawns and shrubs, a Gray Catbird mewed a raspy call from among the leaves of a large crape myrtle, where I saw its slender, dark-gray shape and long, jaunty tail just briefly before it flew and disappeared into a Leyland cypress tree.

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