Great-crested Flycatcher

After being away for most of the first two weeks of May, I returned home to unseasonably warm weather, even for here, with a string of sunny days and temperatures in the low 90s. Suddenly it’s summer. Among the familiar sounds that welcomed me home were the rich Breet and Whreep calls of Great-crested Flycatchers – one of the first things I heard when I stepped outside.

We often hear these calls in the trees around our yard, and occasionally these large, handsome flycatchers even visit the deck – like this one, which stayed around for several minutes yesterday afternoon, hawking insects from the air and also hunting around the umbrella and corners of the deck rails and windows.

The songs of Summer Tanager, Pine Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Brown Thrasher and Northern Mockingbird also greeted me, and the spee calls of at least a couple of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers – though they seem less common here than in past years – the rattles of Red-bellied Woodpeckers, the trumpeted call of a Pileated Woodpecker, and the swishy songs of Eastern Phoebes. Chimney Swifts twittered and swept overhead. Two Red-tailed Hawks soared and circled.

A pair of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds comes frequently to the feeder on the deck. Red-eyed Vireos sing steadily from the woods, and other birdsong this morning included a Scarlet Tanager near the top of a tall sweet gum, a Louisiana Waterthrush along the creek, a Black-and-white Warbler in trees along the roadside in a wooded area and – finally – a White-eyed Vireo in the Old Field. I had begun to think one would not return here this season. The effervescent songs of House Wrens also have arrived in the yards of several homes around the neighborhood, bubbling like musical fountains.

Four Red-shouldered Hawks circled high overhead at one time, near noon, one or two of them crying kee-yer repeatedly, and two of the four circling up higher until they became specks and then disappeared completely, melting into the blue.

The most haunting sound of the morning was the high, clear whistled pee-eeeeeeee of a Broad-winged Hawk. It came from somewhere to the north, beyond the wooded area where a pair of Broad-winged Hawks nested last summer. I’ve been watching for them and hoping they might return, but this is the first time I’ve heard one – and I only heard it call a couple of times, and did not see it, though I watched and waited for several minutes.

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