Trees Full of Golden-crowned Kinglets

Yesterday and today, the oaks and pines around our house have seemed at times to shimmer with the high, light calls of an unusual number of Golden-crowned Kinglets. They come and go all day. This afternoon I went outside one time when I heard them moving through. The first one I saw showed a yellow-gold crown, the second, a bright orange crown. Both were low among the branches, moving quickly around, gleaning tiny insects and calling their crisp, almost whispered ti-ti-ti. With bold black and white stripes surrounding the colorful crowns, white wing bars and greenish backs, they brought flashes of color and animation to the trees – which have seemed remarkably quiet for the past couple of weeks or so. For some reason, I have seen fewer migrant species here this fall than in any year I can remember, though I’m not completely sure if there were fewer birds – or if it’s because I’ve been outside less often or been too busy and preoccupied and not fully observant when I do get out.

Meanwhile, a Northern Flicker called kleer! from an area just inside the woods with a good many dead standing pines. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker mewed from further away in the woods – I haven’t yet seen the first one here, but its calls are familiar, and it’s nice to know they are back. Several times I’ve thought I heard the nasal call of a Red-breasted Nuthatch, but I haven’t yet seen it and am not certain.

Other sounds of the warm, sunny fall day came from our year-round resident birds – the loud kee-yer of a soaring Red-shouldered Hawk, the softly-trilled song of a Pine Warbler, the tsup of an Eastern Phoebe, the chatter and fussing of Tufted Titmice and Carolina Chickadees, the bouncing burble of a Carolina Wren, an Eastern Bluebird’s blurry churry-churry, the squeaking calls of Brown-headed Nuthatches, the chuck-chuck and rattle of a Red-bellied Woodpecker and pink! of a Downy, the harsh squawk of a Northern Mockingbird – and a silent Brown Thrasher stood on the rim of the bird bath.

Yesterday morning as I walked up the slope of our driveway shortly after sunrise, twelve Chimney Swifts came flying out of the north in a pale blue sky flecked with small orange-pink clouds. They flew spread out widely, moving directly from north to south, as if on a mission, flew up and over me, and disappeared. I don’t know for sure that they were leaving – but they looked as if they were, the way they flew in one direction, with purpose, not circling around, like a perfect image of the last birds of summer, finally on their way.

Last Friday, October 8, we still had one female Ruby-throated Hummingbird coming to our feeder. I haven’t seen one since then, though our weekend was busy so I’m not sure they all have left.

Leave a Reply