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Monday, September 29, 2008

We've been starting every day with birdwatching off the deck and tower. Such joy, to spend an hour or two just watching birds. What a way to start the day. It's torture to come inside, but around 10 AM it slows down enough to let me go back into the studio. Soon enough, these little migrants, gaudy and flashy and delicate and exotic, will be gone, well on their way to their Central and South American wintering grounds. So we revel in them while we can, soaking them up and taking digital souvenirs of their stay with us.

It's a thrill to get enough pictures of a single species to make a little photoessay, perhaps get a tiny glimpse into their complex behavior, their lives. I gather what bits I may in the privileged moments I spend in their presence.

I glance at the bird Spa, which I do hundreds of times each day as I "work," and see something tiny, colorful, out of place. A warbler. Which one? Perhaps the titmouse wonders, too.
It jumps to the dry rock, revealing a cheek patch and the hint of a burning orange throat. Nice wingbars! A Blackburnian warbler. What a fine sight to greet the morning.
I study my books, but can't decide whether this is an adult female or a first fall male. No matter. It's beautiful.

Turning toward me, it shows its glowing throat. It takes a long, soaky bath.It repairs to the nearby birch to preen and fluff its damp feathers.Lots of work to do under the wings.I am flabbergasted at the length and flexibility of its neck. Blackburnians are such compact little warblers, but this neck would do credit to an ibis. And I'm stunned again to see it twist its tiny body into the most impossible position as it surveys the yard. If I drew a bird with its leg like this, any ornithologist worth her salt would shoot me down. Including me. Yep, that's the hind toe on the outside edge of the branch.
Soon, it's time to think about leaving. The warbler surveys the birch leaves for a morsel of food to speed it on its way, checks the sky.It hops up to an exposed branch, giving me a fleeting moment's more pleasure.It mounts to the top of the sycamore we planted close to our deck

and is gone.


Oh. I miss them already and they're not even gone.

After hearing (twice!) your NPR story about the magic hedge in Chicago, I'm delighted to find your blog.

I'm not much of a naturalist, but birds are among my favorite things to draw.

A good window, with a bird feeder or bath to look out at: that's another under appreciated joys of "the good life."

Really great photos!

I actually found one of these migrating through my yard last spring. Delightful post. Thanks. Makes me want to spend more time watching.

What a wonderful sequence of pictures. We too are spending most mornings watching what passes through our garden or we go to the local park.

What a wonderful morning.
A passing glimpse of one so lovely.

But I would not ever get back to work, with visitors such as those!

Now that's a pretty bird. If I caught sight of one in the morning, it would take me several days to recover. As a matter of fact, I'd have to call in sick - take the day off, review my photos and write about it.

Lucky you :o)

Great photo series. It is nice to have such a beautiful visitor in your backyard!

I've never seen one Julie. How beautiful! Bet he does birdie yoga? :c)

Great series of photos! I especially love the one that shows the feathers all fluffed out and'd hardly recognize him in a before and after makeover line up. I guess birds are good stylists.

Fantastic pix and post! That's my favorite way to view a critter -- going about its business, doing its ablutions, and turning conventional wisdom ("It's physically impossible for a (species name here) to do THAT.")) on its pointy head.

They are great to watch. Nice series.

Yay Bird Spa! Loved those splashy pictures and the after-bath preening. I have 2 migrators (?) so far and seeing yours gets me excited!

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