An Early Summer Day

The day began with the song of a Wood Thrush, lyrical, flute-like notes drifting up through the leaves of the woods from somewhere down around the creek. The morning was cloudy and gray, the trees restless in a light breeze. I stood for several minutes in a fine, barely perceptible sprinkle of rain, feeling very lucky, just listening to the unexpected song, impossibly lovely and increasingly uncommon here.

There’s one other Wood Thrush singing in our neighborhood this spring, in a wooded area behind a small pond. Each year, there seem to be fewer, and each year I think that maybe we won’t hear one at all – so when I do, it feels like a gift.

From around the same area near the creek came the sharp WHEET-sit call of an Acadian Flycatcher, the bright whistle and tumbling notes of a Louisiana Waterthrush, the buzzy song of a Northern Parula, and the less-frequently heard dry, rising and falling cow-cow-cow-CAWP-cawp-cawp-cawp of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

A Pine Warbler trilled in the pines all around the edges of the woods, and very active Blue-gray Gnatcatchers called spee. A Yellow-throated Vireo sang in the trees behind a neighbor’s yard, a Red-eyed Vireo deeper in the woods, and a Great-crested Flycatcher called breet and whreep. The cries of a Red-shouldered Hawk soaring very high in the southeast sounded made it sound much closer than it was.

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird made frequent trips to the feeder, now and then buzzing over to me and hanging in the air, coming closer and closer, checking me out. A couple of times another hummingbird zoomed past her like a warning shot, maybe the male, but a male never came to the feeder while I was watching, though their twittering calls were all around. The nest I watched a female construct four weeks ago sits empty on its pine branch, so I assume she’s built another somewhere else.

Rain clouds hung low, gray and dark all day, with occasional sprinkles, but despite the gloomy weather, there was a surprising amount of bird activity around our yard and woods. Now and then a breeze brought the summery scent of gardenias, now in bloom. I don’t think birds were unusually active today. It’s just that I happened to be out at the right times. Some of the observations were typical of an early summer day but others were surprising and interesting.

Leave a Reply