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September's Silent Parade

Sunday, September 23, 2018

 As I write, Sept. 21, the ruby-throated hummingbirds are still here, just a couple juveniles still hanging around and bickering. I love them so. And through the birches and flower gardens, fall warblers are sifting through in earnest. I must glance up from my drafting board 200 times a day, and I'm nearly always rewarded by the trembling leaves that mean a warbler is plucking aphids off their undersurfaces.

My birches are loaded with little green aphids, candy to migrant warblers and hummingbirds, too. Of course, I'm glued to the windows, my big lens slishing away.

The magnolia warbler has a pretty yellow rump in all plumages. 

We're firmly on the fall migration route for Cape May warblers, but they're rare as hen's teeth in spring. Go figure.  This is a nice adult male, still showing his golden side neck and strong tiger stripes.

Who's that?

One of my favorite fall migrants (and breeders) is the ovenbird, a warbler that looks like a thrush. That shoe-button eye, with the surprised ring around it; those heavy droozly stripes down the belly--I just love these neat little forest dwellers.

All that would be great, but the burnt orange crown stripe is too much.

And the ovenbird walks. One shell-pink foot is placed daintily in front of the other. They walk along long branches, mincing delicately. The head bobs slightly, like a chicken's. I love everything about ovenbirds, except their tendency to crash into glass windows in fall. For them, and for so many others, I put netting over my windows.

 The resident rubythroats, making the rounds of my flowers. They won't be here much longer.  I said when I put the oversized geranium "Happy Thought Red" out in May that it would never be so beautiful again. Boy, was that the truth. The gray squirrels have chewed the crap out of it; the sun has baked its beautiful chartreuse leaves, but it gamely throws out scarlet flowers for the hummingbirds to sip. No worries. I have two tiny babies to go in the greenhouse, and they'll be big and beautiful by next spring.

Salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue" is a favorite. As often as not, the dainty flowers will drop when they're probed.

Most of my out-the-studio window photos feature sweet birds on the colorful tomato cages I use to support my taller flowers.
This is a juvenile song sparrow, impersonating a Lincoln's sparrow, with its finely penciled breast streaking.

A young Tennessee warbler briefly got itself trapped behind the netting that keeps my huge studio windows safe for migrant birds. It was a thrill to see it so close.  Birds are never trapped for long, since the netting is stretched on a PVC frame that stands almost a foot out from the window, and they have only to go up, down or sideways to get out. To learn more about this miraculous life-saver, go read my article, "A Solution to Window Strikes,"  here.

I just never know what I'm going to see, so I keep looking. Who's that on the hanging basket hook? I knew right away, because there isn't another species that has yellow (instead of white) tail spots. It's a yellow warbler!

and a very, very beautiful one. An immature yellow warbler in September is such a lovely bird, the bright yellow washed with grass-green. Yellow suffuses everything: its eye ring, tail spots, legs, feet, even its bill. It's like it drank sunshine.

 Fuchsia "Trandshen Bonnstadt" is the flower that it's inspecting.  I really think the spelling is wrong, if it's German, but that's how it was spelled on the Glasshouse Works label when I bought my tiny plant years ago.  Probably ought to be spelled Trandschen Bonstedt, but I can't find any other source for it than Glasshouse Works, and that's how they spell it. Still available from Glasshouse works, too!

Needless to say, I take cuttings of this miraculous tropical plant and carry it over in the greenhouse all winter. I'm petrified of losing it; it's such a cheery, free blooming soul and it roots from cuttings in water! Hummingbirds love it and they look fabulous prospecting those clusters of pink.  I have four-foot tall plants blooming their heads off, planted right in the garden soil, right now. The rabbits leave it mostly alone. Miracle. Anything the nipping, chomping, chewing animals allow to live is a pure miracle to me.

As a bonus, you can see the bird screen with its gray PVC frame over my studio windows. It's nicely unobtrusive, but highly effective. Those windows are doing a great job of pretending to be limitless sky. They need a screen, and they have one.

The warbler was pretty sure there should be something edible in that pretty flower. So it diddled with it for awhile, trying to see if it would produce something nice.

What a breathtakingly beautiful little bird.  Every feather is unworn and new, immaculately fringed and bordered, since this bird, who was born this spring, has just molted into a fresh suit of feathers for the long trip south.

The yellow warbler is just a part of the silent parade going on outside, all through September. Get out there! The trees are dripping with warblers. Blackburnians running into bay-breasts; black-throated blues and Cape Mays; yellows and yellowthroats and Tennessees, blackpolls and hoodeds, all coming through now in southeast Ohio. It's the greatest show on earth, and it's perfectly silent.

Keep looking up.


Every other bird stops and talks,
But the ovenbird walks.

@unmitigated me, I see what you did there. Always associate James Taylor with fall, because I used to go to Martha's Vineyard in October, and you hear a lot of JT on the Vineyard. :) Thanks for the earworm, I think you started a JT listening spree!

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
by the false azure of the window pane

Enjoy your warblers double for me! We ain't got but a few.

Always a good idea.

Out of curiosity, I entered Trandshen Bonnstadt into Google, as well as Trandschen Bonstedt. And Google came back with LINKS TO JULIE ZICKEFOOSE. Lordy, lordy, you are a science chimp indeed. Complete with Google bowing down.
By the way, thanks for the birding tour. Even if I had as many birds traveling through as you do, I would not know them.
I have learned, however, to keep my blooming plants going as long as possible, for any traveling bird who should stop by.

Are all these visitors truly silent?

(Love KGMom's comment!)

Was startled to see fuschia growing wild in the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland.

@Michelle the most you'll hear out of them is a few lisping chips. You just have to watch for the movement. I love fall birding!

Beautiful, thanks for sharing

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