Great Crested Flycatcher

This morning for the first time this season, I heard the throaty, rolling whreep-whreep of a Great Crested Flycatcher – returned from its winter home somewhere further south, maybe Florida, Mexico or Central America. It’s nice to know they’re back. A large, proud-looking flycatcher with lemon-yellow belly, long cinnamon tail, and big gray-crested head, the Great Crested Flycatcher is one of the most characteristic birds around our neighborhood. Its burry calls are a defining part of the spring and summer sounds of the woods here, reflecting the combination of leaves, vines and sunshine in the woodland edges where it’s usually found.

Meanwhile, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula and Black-and-white Warbler continue to sing in the woods nearby, sometimes coming up into the trees around the house. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers call spee! One White-eyed Vireo sings among the weeds of the old field.

The squeaking calls of Brown-headed Nuthatches are heard fairly often, but I was surprised early this afternoon to hear the repeated yank-yank-yank calls of one, or maybe two, White-breasted Nuthatch that stayed in the vicinity for at least an hour.

Cedar Waxwings seem to have moved on further north – I haven’t seen them in several days now. But Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-throated Sparrows are still here, and singing – the Ruby-crowned Kinglets sing a quick, lively little tune from thickets and low trees; the Yellow-rumped Warblers a loose, musical trill that sounds like sparkles or bangles scattered all through the new-green leaves; and the whistled, bittersweet song of White-throated Sparrows drifts up from brushy, shrubby areas, especially at twilight.

Eastern Phoebe, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Chipping Sparrow, Pine Warbler and Eastern Towhee all fill the air with song from early morning until late in the day. Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are less noticeable than in the quiet winter months, but still around and active, and this morning a Pileated Woodpecker gave its cuk-cuk-cuk call from somewhere along the floor of the woods nearby.

Eastern Bluebirds are nesting in a nest box in our neighbor’s yard, while a pair of Carolina Chickadees seem to have moved into the bluebird box in our yard.

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