Blue Grosbeaks in the Field

Late this morning – a warm, muggy day with sluggish clouds slowly, slowly drifting away – two Blue Grosbeak females or juveniles were giving loud chink! calls and flashing around from spot to spot among the tall grasses and weeds in the old field. One clung to the tall ragged stem of a weed and switched its tail back and forth vigorously, as the grosbeaks often do. Their plumage was a warm tawny brown, but I couldn’t see them well or in detail, because I hadn’t brought binoculars along – it’s been so hot lately I haven’t wanted the extra weight. Any time I leave them behind, it’s almost certain that I’ll see something interesting.

But even without binoculars they were fun to watch – so energetic and full of life. I’ve seen a male and heard his song very infrequently this summer, and think they probably nested in the woods on the other side of the highway and only come into the field to visit.

The same thing is true of the Yellow-breasted Chat, which also was in the field and calling (or singing – I’m not sure how to distinguish its strange vocalizations) this morning, as it does now and then, but not every day.

Other singers along the way included a Northern Parula making its way through the trees on the edge of our yard, Carolina Wren, Summer Tanager, Acadian Flycatcher, Chipping Sparrow, Phoebe, Cardinal, Mockingbird, American Robin, Bluebird and White-eyed Vireo. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Great Crested Flycatcher called. A Downy Woodpecker and a Red-bellied Woodpecker rattled, but only here and there, not nearly as vocal as at other times of year. Mourning Doves cooed. The usual two juvenile Red-tailed Hawks sat on top of utility poles overlooking the field and the highway, quiet this morning.

A neighbor stopped me along the way to tell me he’d enjoyed seeing at least 10 American Goldfinches, maybe more, feeding in a bee balm shrub in their yard.

Two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds zoomed and twittered past me as I walked – and later in the day a male and two or three females or juveniles visited the feeder and the geraniums on the deck often. Several Tufted Titmice come to shallow saucers of water on the deck to bathe, and to drink from the moat in the center of the feeder. Cicadas sing loudly all around.

Wood Thrush continue to sing in two places – one near a creek in the woods, and the other this morning in a scrubby patch of trees and lots of privet, honeysuckle and kudzu around the entrance to a subdivision down the road. Their musical, fluted notes carry and echo for a long way.

Two Red-eyed Vireos moved quietly through the tops of water oaks and pecans in our front yard. A few minutes later I heard their complaining nyanh calls.

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