Friday, August 12, 2005

So Quiet

There are still a lot of birds around--this morning from the front porch I could hear hummingbirds squabbling, blue jays contact calls, a catbird calling, a crow, a phoebe saying I don't know what, a little wren calling, a flock of blackbirds (grackles and cowbirds I think) flying overhead, a lone cedar waxwing contact calling...but singing? No. The last real singer in the neighbourhood, strangely enough, was the cardinal. I heard it yesterday, just a bar or two, but up until then cardinals were singing all day every day.

From the OntBirds, the mailing list of the Ontario Field Ornithologists, this excerpt from a report from Long Point:
Yellow Warbler migration has been pretty thick this past week at Long Point with mostly moulting adult females and juveniles moving. There have been respectable numbers of Least and Traill's Flycatchers and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers have been observed daily since the 5th. There have also been small movements of Northern Waterthrush and Ovenbirds.
The exodus has begun.

From my notes of the last few days:

August 6-7: Cardinal singing, blue/goldenwing singing (probably the Brewsters, more than probably, but following Ontario Breeding Atlas protocol, if I don't see it, this is how I identify it), American redstart singing, black and white warbler singing.

But when I say "singing" now what I mean is a phrase or two, from all but the cardinal. No one else was really belting it out.

There are still fledglings and possibly nestlings out there, but I can feel the drop in the level of activity--it's just very still compared to a few short weeks ago. I walked last night without attracting the chucks of the common yellowthroat or the thrasher or even many wrens. And I believe I saw a fox sparrow in the far field--didn't get a very good look, but my impression was first of a large bird, then when I saw it better, a bright sparrow. Seems early for this guy to be passing through here again. (Last seen on April 14--here is a link to a range map for this bird.)

Looking back at last year, the fields were much more active until much later. I see from my notes that I heard and saw a golden-winged warbler on August 24(suspected father of my Brewsters--or perhaps never mated, he sang all season, unlike the Brewsters this year). And also on that day last year, a veery calling. I haven't heard a veery for weeks. On the other hand it was August 24 when I first started to notice the raptor migrants--last year was great for raptors on the walk. And this was also the time when I was seeing the flicker families.

Last year we had almost no hot weather--this year almost nothing but. So perhaps it was this that speeded this season up for the small migrants? Sad really, because it was the hot weather that kept me indoors way more than I wanted to be.

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