Friday, October 12, 2012

Itty-Bitty Bird Migration

When the autumn winds come out of the north, the itty-bitty bird migration erupts.  I've been working that for photographs of mostly small perching birds this October.  I've come up with both commonplace and unusual birds. 

Sometimes I only have to walk over to the town park for results such as this nice Eastern Towhee.  It's not uncommon, but I love its boisterous vocalizations of "drink your tea" in spring and its more subtle chips in fall.

Traveling farther from home, I encountered what birders would call a "life bird"; one that is extremely uncommon in North America.  The Northern Wheatear is described in my bird book as a rare tundra breeder that normally migrates to Africa.  Presumably, some North Atlantic storm blew this juvenile bird way off-course.

I would normally work to have the Wheatear posed in a more natural setting, but had I scared off this bird in the process, I would likely have suffered mob action from the serious birders lined up nearby. 

The Brown Thrasher is a common bird that I really enjoy.  This one had me confused because he was vocalizing like a Red-bellied Woodpecker, leading me to look in the wrong places.   The image correctly shows his brash attitude.  He's giving me a vocal hazing in the photo.

I don't keep a life list of birds, but my first encounter with a Black-throated Blue Warbler left me wanting more.  It frequents the shady woodland brush, and the females look so much like other warblers that I don't believe I'd pick up on one.  But this colorful  male sure got my attention. I want more of this.

The Common Yellowthroat is just that, but I just love the poses that I find like this one with its feet on two crossing branches.  Hope it never becomes uncommon.  I frequently find it along the power line near our home.

This is probably a female, or maybe a juvenile. The male has a deep black mask that is instantly recognizable.

Now, there are birders whose goal is to find as many species as possible, and there are those who relish in observing  any bird's behaviors.  I am in the latter, and recently had great fun watching some Red-breasted Nuthatches searching for food among the cedar trees. This one has a small insect, maybe a spider in its beak.

It seemed they were more comfortable upside down as they probed the dense foliage, again finding an insect.  On one occasion I found a juvenile overcome by the demands of long distance migration that it simply landed in the road.  Having picked it up to move it, there was no feeling of weight at all. 

The Red-breasted Nuthatches were also very approachable, often coming in so close I could not focus on them.  But, I had to be quick.

Another secretive and uncommon bird is the Brown Creeper.  They forage for insects on the bark of large trees. This one was on a sassafras tree. Their coloration makes it difficult to see them.  Their call is very high pitched and hard to hear.   I've only seen one on two occasions.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is pretty much the opposite of the Brown Creeper- common and bold. It makes for great practice and entertainment.  This one was feeding on autumn berries.

It has a yellow rump, yellow sides and a heavily streaked breast. 

Finally, a tiny bird that is common but still a challenge to me.  I saw dozens of  Ruby-crowned Kinglets this fall, but only once did a male show the brilliant red crest raised on its head.  It was directly behind me and nearly overhead. Then, it was gone.  So I was stymied, again.   Still, I have to show you one absent the red crest.

I sat for an hour on two occasions and watched as these little birds dashed out to catch insects from around sassafras fruit on the ground.  Just catching one motionless was a reward.

It's cold and breezy outside as I write this.  The weather forecast is for 23 degrees (F) in the morning, so I think most of the small bird migration is over. It's been fun.

Hope you enjoy, and maybe have a few new birds to recognize.

Paul Schmitt

No comments:

Post a Comment