Spring Arrivals – Black-and-white Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo and Chimney Swifts

Today was another in a stretch of unseasonably warm spring days, sunny, hazy with pollen, with temperatures in the upper 80s or 90 by afternoon. But the mornings are cool and pretty and bright with birdsong, with green leaves now opening on just about all the trees, even the white oaks, and dogwoods blooming like lacy clouds all through the woods. It’s the time of year when almost every day brings something new – with summer birds arriving, winter birds leaving and migrants passing through. It would be hard to stay inside at all if it weren’t already getting so hot by midday.

A Louisiana Waterthrush continues to sing along the creek in the woods behind our house, and a Northern Parula sings from the edge of the woods nearby. Black-and-white Warblers and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers arrived some time last week – I heard and saw the first ones on Friday, April 2 – and today a Black-and-White Warbler has been singing from trees all around the back yard – a squeaky, high, unmusical but pleasant song. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers have seemed uncharacteristically elusive so far, but I do hear their spee-spee calls here and there.

Chimney Swifts also arrived some time late last week, and yesterday morning for the first time I saw three as they chittered and swept overhead.

Yesterday morning I also heard the song of a Yellow-throated Vireo for the first time this spring – a burry, rich, four-phrase song, musical and expressive. It may have arrived over the weekend, when we were not here. So far it hasn’t come close enough to see, staying hidden in the woods.

There’s also the rusty jingle and creak of too many Brown-headed Cowbirds around. I heard several just today, in different spots in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, our winter birds are drifting away, though it’s hard to tell for sure when they’ve gone. I haven’t seen or heard a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Dark-eyed Junco or Hermit Thrush since late March. But White-throated sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets still are here – all singing – and lots of Cedar Waxwings.

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