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Late Summer Riches

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


Psst. Anybody know what this bird might be? It's a great quiz, a real booger. Puzzle on that one for awhile, make your guesses, write 'em down. It was spotted in my orchard, having been raised in a nest nearby. Its parents scolded me for weeks, and kept scolding even after it (and its siblings, I'm going to presume) were flying and hopping around and scolding me themselves, like this little chap is doing. I'll tell you at the bottom of the post, so as not to spoil the game.

This one's a lot easier to ID. See the rose flush coming in on the breast? What a little beauty--a newly fledged male rose-breasted grosbeak, so young his bill is still blackish--just like a young cardinal's. I'm not sure where he came from, because I didn't hear rosebreasts singing anywhere nearby this spring--not even down Dean's Fork, where I've had as many as five singing males in past years. Once they're flying, juveniles can disperse for many miles.

Younguns are everywhere. Here's a stripling rabbit, bug eyed and slender, perfect of fur and form.

And a stripling youth, watering the thirsty golden raspberries: rhubarb at his feet, tuberoses and mint in the foreground. Oh, how the Heritage Bed has grown! Every year I chop a fresh border out of the lawn, growing it out into the mown space. Much more fun to make food and flowers than grass.

We carved us up a whole lot of wisteria this summer. Wisteria has its place on the porches of Victorian homes, if you're willing to cut it back ferociously, and stop those shoots from coming up everywhere. It has no place here, but it's taken over a hill. We battled some of it back this summer. I shudder to think what this place will look like if the next inhabitants aren't feisty scrappers like we are.

I'm so enjoying the last week or two of his residence at home. It's been quite a ride. We've gotten to know each other so much better, and that has been a blessing. 

 But we were talking about birds, weren't we? Here's a newly fledged indigo bunting, calling for its parents in a sumac in the meadow. Spit! Spit! Spit! You should click on this one to see its grumpy face.

A young rubythroat, sticking out her rice-noodle tongue.
A young blue-winged warbler, contemplating my new bird fountain. Oh, what a thrill it was to see one of the two pairs of blue-wings that bred in the meadow flip out and flutter before me the day their babies fledged! And I loved to hear the males trading songs and insults all through the spring and early summer. Riches!! Gold coins!
There's such a parade of birds by the window, even though I'm not feeding them much at all any more. Water is the attractant, water and native plants and bright flowers everywhere, and all the insects they attract.  This old male cardinal has a bum right wing, likely from a poorly healed broken coracoid, but he's making it through his second summer with us pretty well. Nice to be able to take a cool dip on a hot day.
I've  greatly enjoyed watching two fledgling robins foraging on cutworms that they pull out of the clover and crabgrass in the lawn.  
Such an ornate and extravagant plumage. I wish they kept that spotty breast, like Europe's mistle thrush does. 
Not a single earthworm to be seen in this drought, but they make do nicely on cutworms, crickets and grasshoppers. I'm astounded how many they pull out of the "lawn." You won't see that happening on a Chemlawn! Nor will there be many moths at your porch light.
Another cutworm fan: a baby brown thrasher. No, they don't look their absolute best yet, but I love the young ones so. I love watching them learn to be birds.
 A messy, molty blue jay at the bath, one of a pair of hardworking parents who raised a couple nice babies on the place this summer. I didn't know either of them from before. So it goes. You get everybody nicely identified and wait breathlessly, and then all the ones you know leave, and new ones come in that you can't tell from anyone else. At least that's what happens in southeast Ohio. I miss Frost, who stayed two winters and  bred here once, but he's gone. I miss them all. It's been a lean summer for jays. One small but significant reason to look forward to November! That's when the jays come back to me.

A brood of Carolina wrens has been popping all about my new bird fountain. (I have yet to tell you about that, but I will). They love to investigate the rocks I leave lying about, crawling under and around them. If there's a little hole or cave, a Carolina wren is going to go in it.

Here's a baby American redstart preparing to bathe. Oh, they love water!

And they love my golden Chamaecyparis trees, that set off the red siding so nicely. 
All right. Are you ready with your possible ID's of the mystery baby in the first photo? That all-over olive creature with no identifying marks whatsoever? Because here it is (lower right) with its beautiful daddy. 
It's a lousy photo, but come on. Getting two Kentucky warblers in any shot is a lagniappe.
Having them breed in your old orchard somewhere in southeast Ohio is, too.
It's been a heck of a summer for breeding birds (and me) here. I've been here to document and confirm breeding of Kentucky, hooded, black and white, prairie, blue-winged, American redstart, and common yellowthroat, among the warblers. Pine warblers, Louisiana waterthrushes, ovenbirds and worm-eating warblers nested, but I never was able to see fledglings. Doesn't mean they didn't fledge! There were others, of course, but those are just the ones I could confirm. Other species confirmed breeding this summer were indigo bunting, blue-gray gnatcatcher, eastern wood-pewee, eastern phoebe, orchard oriole (only the second nest in 29 years!), chipping sparrow,  northern cardinal, Carolina chickadee, eastern bluebird (duh!), blue jay, tufted titmouse, eastern towhee, yellow-billed cuckoo, Carolina wren, American robin, downy and hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, broad-winged hawks, red-tailed hawks, barred owl, and eastern screech-owl. That's a whole lotta creeping around in the woods, and I feel blessed to have been here to do it. From the way it's looking, I'll be here to document lots of other things, too, for the foreseeable future. A bit sad not to be traveling--I miss my family! but fine with the confinement, because there's always so much to learn, see, and marvel at.


Very tricky fledgling! My guess was Tennessee. Thanks for the challenge! I need priming for the FL fall warbler season. 😊

I had no clue but thanks for the id.I live in a neighborhood where everyone chemlawns ( a spraying company)2X yearly. And in non drought years have perfect lifeless green lawns which spill 60% of the above chemicals into the storm sewer to speed the eutrophication of the Red River to the extent that there is a huge algae choked dead zone where the river enters Lake Winnipeg. I use no chemicals, have dandelions ( and pollinators). My hard sports frogs, voles, rabbits( living under the front porch. A pair of American Robins make a nest on the porch light next to the front door every year( for about 8 weeks we enter/exit our house via the garage so we don't disturb them) Our maple trees have a House Finch nesting and Ruby Throated Hummingbird s nest somewhere close by . Yes my neighbors have all put up fences but I care not; their yards are dead zones sporting grass that is not natural and thousands of gallons of H2O are wasted on them in addition to the fertilizer. I on the other hand have a yard full of living things( and lots of privacy on my neighbors dime?) The sad part is the obvious lack of bird, bees and insects on neighboring properties but wow their lawns are green!!??😳😬🤐🤢

Local Moving Companies Youngster, you're a thorn in my side! Tennessee was my guess. Thank you for setting the challenge! I need to get ready for the fall warbler season in Florida. 😊 \sGail

Yikes......." my yard"😳

I kinda thought it might be a Kentucky warbler, but only because you showed them to me on my morning with you! That’s an impressive bird list. We’re kind of tallying up our own at our home here in Mexico — Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Bented Oriole, Cactus and Canyon Wrens, White Winged Dove, Inca Dove, Curved-billed Thrasher, Cassin Kingbird. thanks to Merlin ID I’m doing better with matching song to bird.

Wow! It's pretty much a dead ringer for a juvie Common Yellowthroat! I can see why they moved Kentucky from Oporornis into Geothlypis!!

Sadly I discovered my song sparrow nest in the daylilies flattened and empty. Wish I had fenced it but that would have disturbed them.

I know! But proportions are different-proportionately smaller head and longer primary projection on KEWA; strong green, not brownish upper parts and yellow not concentrated on throat in KEWA. I was really glad to have Dad feeding it to be sure though.

I would have guessed Common Yellowthroat, too. Kentucky Warbler never would have occurred to me, as we don't have them here in upstate New York.

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