Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting in the Old Field

In the old field, both a young Blue Grosbeak and an Indigo Bunting continue to sing. This morning the Blue Grosbeak sang from the top of a chinaberry tree, called chink and flew down to the top of a tall ragged weed near the roadside, as if to say good morning, switching his tail vigorously, and singing again. A first-summer male, he remains mostly brownish in color, with a smoky-blue head and inky blue smudges of color in the brown. The Indigo Bunting is a tiny brilliant dot of sapphire blue that usually isn’t hard to find because he chants his sweet-sweet, chew-chew, sweet-chew tirelessly, usually from the very top of a tree or shrub.

Two Red-tailed Hawks sat on utility poles overlooking the field and the highway beyond, and a Black Vulture sat on another pole, distant from the hawks, with its wings held out to warm them in the sun. A Pine Warbler also sings in the field, and Eastern Towhees – birds I way too often overlook. Often one perches in the top of a vine-draped tree to sing, bold and colorful black, red-orange and white. Several Mockingbirds live in and around the field, sometimes one sings, but not so often. Mostly they hunt in the weeds and grass, raising wings to flash white wing patches, and perch on the wires with Mourning Doves and sometimes an Eastern Phoebe.

The field itself looks pretty ragged and rough. Deep purple stiff verbena grows low along part of the roadside, a few white asters and dandelions here and there, some wild potato-vine flowers – large white flowers with burgundy centers – out in the power cut, and the grasses are thick. But weeks of very hot weather have taken a toll on a lot of the trees and vines and other plants, I think. The weeds look dry and stunted and tough, and even the kudzu is barely spreading so far. Thunderstorms have brought good soaking rains fairly often – we’ve been lucky with that. But the heat has been unrelenting. It’s the hottest summer I can ever remember – temperatures stay above 90 and often above the mid 90s for weeks at a time.

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