Songbird Central

By , May 17, 2018

It’s mid-May, and the homestead feels like songbird central.

hermit thrush

A hermit thrush pauses while foraging in the homestead dooryard (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

It started about a month ago, when, unusually for us, robins arrived. Generally, American robins hang around Mud Bay, where they seem to enjoy the late afternoon sun in the thriving, west-facing garden plots of our neighbors. This year, they led the arrivals to our shadier eastern-facing property.

Along with them came the usual first arrivers, the varied thrushes. Shortly after, we began to hear ruby crowned kinglets, whose song seems to summon the herring shoals.

Then, the Swainson’s thrushes appeared, setting off our annual identification confusion. To our casual, amateur observation, the subtle differences between three thrushes cause us trouble: Swainson’s, hermit, and the gray cheeked, a rarer presence, but apparently still a possibility.

The question cleared up when our favorite song bird, the hermit thrush, arrived in force on Mother’s Day (see A Shy Summer Neighbor: the Hermit Thrush). Suddenly, our forest filled with our favorite bird song, the sound of summer on our homestead!

hermit thrush

A hermit thrush enjoys a snack in the sunshine (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Add to it Wilson’s warblers, Townsend’s warblers, our year ’round friends, the Pacific Wren (see Cock of the Walk) and a gang of aggressive hummingbirds (see Hummingbird Wars), and all of a sudden we’re  Songbird Central!

This is all in addition to our resident chickadees, lots of sparrows, and other birds we don’t see as often in the dooryard, or have not learned to identify by their songs (see Birdsongs 101: A Class that Bears Repeating). And, I’m not including the myriad seabirds that add to the homestead soundtrack right now.

Our weather has turned sunny, and I spent a lot of time yesterday chasing birds around the yard with the viewfinder of my camera. I’m sorry to say that everyone’s just too busy to pose! I only managed to get a few photos of hermit thrushes, but, since they are my favorite, perhaps they’re the best decoration for this post?

hermit thrush

And, look! another hermit thrush! Everyone else was just too busy to cooperate with the camera (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

In addition to songbirds, we’re seeing whales off the rocks, lots of sea lions, and we had a moose in the yard just the other morning. Busy, busy, busy!

Incidentally, we’ve reduced the amount of sugar in our Recipe: Hummingbird Feeder Nectar to match recommendations from our friend, known locally as “the Bird Nerd”.

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