White-eyed Vireo and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers

This morning a slight drop in temperature brought a big difference in how it felt to be outside. Instead of a hazy, bleached-out blue, the sky was a soft, pretty blue, with high, scattered wisps of clouds, and a nice fresh breeze from the northeast helped, too. So it felt pleasant to be outside again – not just something to be endured.

A Louisiana Waterthrush and an Acadian Flycatcher were singing down in the woods near the creek this morning early, along with a Yellow-throated Vireo. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were coming often to the feeder off our back deck, sometimes finding a moment or two to sip nectar, often hovering and twittering and zipping in duels. American Goldfinches called as they flew over and mewed from nearby trees. They often come to the hummingbird feeder too, to drink from the water moat in the center. I’m not sure why they prefer it to the birdbath in the garden right below – but they frequently do. 

On a walk through the neighborhood later in the morning, though, birds were so very quiet and scarce that it felt unnatural, and I do not know how much of this is the usual seasonal quiet – and how much is a greater absence. But I’m pretty sure there are many fewer birds than usual. And almost no butterflies at all.

But there were a few nice moments this morning, when I walked past the dense thickets in what remains of an old field. A Blue Grosbeak sang beautifully from a spot too far away to see, ringing out through the noise of the busy highway nearby. No other birds were in sight at first – but then, unexpectedly, the clear, fresh, bright song of a White-eyed Vireo came from somewhere near the edge of the thickets. It sang again. And again. I searched for it – and what I spotted instead were at least three spritely Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, flitting in the leaves right on the edge of the thickets, with flashes of silvery blue and white. These tiny, lively birds with white breasts, blue-gray heads, backs and long, expressive tails are so fairy-like they are always fun to watch. With white in their wings and along the edges of their tails, they sparkled in the sun. 

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