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From My Studio Window

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mid and late September, everything, I mean everything is going through our yard. We live on a high ridgetop, and are blessed by hilltopping birds and butterflies who follow the ridges on their way north and south. I have yet to become blase about this fact; about my ability to take ten steps out on the deck or fifty up to the tower and be in Migration Paradise. These photos were all taken from my drafting stool where I sit to paint. Through a window, through the black diamond-mesh crop netting stretched on a PVC frame that, in the year it's been up, has saved all but one bird from death or injury when they've flown at the window. Sure, the photos would be a bit sharper without the netting, but Job One is to do no harm to the birds.

Just on September 28, the kind of misty, overcast day that lures birds to their deaths on highly reflective windows, I had four birds bounce hard off that netting, and I've little doubt that all would be dead or injured without it. What a blessing. All they lose is a few feathers and some dignity, and they go on their merry way to Central America. The lone bird that has died hitting the netting was a young mourning dove who was traveling too fast and was too heavy for it to break her impact. That beats the heck out of 2-3 birds a day dying in fall migration. I had it put up in memory of  Ruby, a red-bellied woodpecker I loved very much.

Red-breasted nuthatches toot their little tin horns all through September and October.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks voice an "Eek!" that sounds just like the sole of  a Chuck Taylor on a gymnasium floor.

The easy ones come through, like this pretty black-throated green warbler.

 We get gobs of them, even though there's not a hemlock to be found for miles around. They're happy in the birches, looking for aphids and scale and spiders.  All the warblers love our birch trees, almost as much as I do.

The BTGR retains enough of its spring coloration to be instantly identifiable in fall. He's got a trace of his black throat and sides, and he keeps the big yellow face patch and brilliant green back.

Not so some of his compatriots.

 This is a common fall migrant in southeast Ohio who looks completely different than he does in 


 There's just a hint of spring glory on his underside: bright lemon-yellow, with thick streaks that in spring would be heavy and black. His best hint's on his tail, which looks from beneath like it's been dipped in ink. Give up?

Magnolia warbler, fall immature. If you're lucky you'll see a lovely yellow rump when his wings droop. Other than that, he's incognito. More of those little stinkers anon.


...and you said you aren't a photographer of birds - you paint them. By all means, you ARE a bird photographer and an excellent one!

Yes, you ARE a bird photographer.
Anyone who can capture their lickety-split, this-branch-and-that do-si-do-ing through warbler colored leaves is a bird photographer.
I've got nothin' but blur.

You do live in paradise!

At the historic logging museum near Gaylord has a wonderful set of windows for birdwatching. We saw several rose-breasted grosbeaks, male and female, and even an evening grosbeak, which I had never seen before! And I have a regular visitor at home now, a male northern flicker that likes the ants in my backyard.

Sara and I birded blind today, toasting you with lifted binoculars and puzzled looks! How do you get the little buggers to stand still?

Such lovely descriptions and beautiful photos. Yes, indeed you are lucky and thanks for sharing it with all of your readers.

Love the first photo! That sweet little warblerface melts my heart. What an encouraging sight to see while laboring hard over a painting. And it's equally encouraging to hear about your efforts to minimize window-strikes paying off. I just finished reading the heartbreaking story of Ruby, and can't imagine how I'd feel if one of my beloved yardbirds met a similar end. Your photos are that much more wonderful when viewed with the knowledge that the subjects are safe.

Simply wonderful! How do you ever get anything else done? Thank you for sharing the view outside your window.

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