Giving thanks for birds

Colder temperatures and beautiful, changing leaves around the pond. With the cold, more winter birds are arriving. Among the more common winter birds are Slate-colored Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, and flocks of Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warblers.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a good example of the ever-changing nature (ha ha) of bird taxonomy. As a teen, I spent ages pouring over my Golden “Birds of North America,” looking at the Warblers and wondering when I would get to see just one. At the time, I noted two similar Warblers: the Myrtle Warbler (Dendroica coronata) and the Audubon’s Warbler (Denroica auduboni). Even then it was acknowledged that the Audubon’s was a western counterpart of the Myrtle, that the two did hybridize, and the species were hard to differentiate in the fall.

Fast forward to the present day. Now the two are lumped together as the Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata—note the change of the genus name) with two separate “populations” (Myrtle and Audubon’s). But I still call them “Myrtle Warblers.”

Now, back to the birds. I’ve been looking for Hermit Thrushes for the past couple of weeks. About a week ago, I saw my “first of the season.” Since then, I’ve found them just about every day. I enjoy seeing these birds so much, I though they deserved two spots in this post: the featured (or cover) image and this frontal view.

I’m fascinated by the markings on its breast. I’d like to see the design and arrangement of feathers that produce the effect.

The woodpeckers are much more visible, now that the leaves are falling. The Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have returned for the winter, but I haven’t yet been able to get a good shot of one. It’s a rare day that I don’t encounter a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Downy Woodpeckers are just about as common.

This Red-bellied just about rivals an owl in being able to twist its head around.

Finally, we had a Red-shouldered Hawk visit our neighborhood last weekend. I suspect it was resting while digesting a rather large dinner. It stayed in the same location for at least an hour, despite some youngsters quite actively watching the spectacle. I did see the Hawk glide down to the ground and the return to the branch. Probably to pick up a morsel it had missed earlier.

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2 thoughts on “Giving thanks for birds

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