Baby Birds

We sensed a shift in the bird world a week or so ago when we started seeing hermit thrushes again. We confirmed the shift when we began to be overrun by this species, named and known for its shy secretiveness.

We’ve heard their songs in the forest and yard since they started staking out their territory earlier in the summer, but as they settled to nesting, we saw less of them. Suddenly, that changed, and they hopped and ran about the yard, stirring the ground cover, looking for insects.

A few days later, we were overrun with fledgling thrushes. Chubby, slightly scruffy in their changing plumage, and very short-tailed, these youngsters are incredibly entertaining. Comical, clumsy, and careless, they explore the grounds with an appearance of wide-eyed wonder, barely aware of us, unless compelled to flee from underfoot.

One of the many fledgling hermits on the property (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

One of the many fledgling hermits on the property (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

When Michelle arrived home the other night, she found one of these children of the forest exploring the trail where it comes down from the ridge. She squatted down to watch it. It hopped closer to her, until it stood beneath her, between her knees!

Meanwhile, above their heads, the hummingbird fledglings dogfight for control of the feeders and practice courtship displays. The other day I watched, spellbound (and, alas, cameraless) as a young pair played. She lit on a branch and watched attentively as he hovered above her head, flashing his tail fan. It looked like the tenderest love story performed as a ballet.

In a week or so, we’ll likely start hearing bad imitations of bird songs as the new generation learns them (see Singing Lessons). The “floorshow” will continue for a while longer, we hope.

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