tree house diary
september—october 2022

View from the tree house balcony on a misty afternoon. The pond with the floating cabin in the background.

3 September
On an afternoon walk I found myself surrounded by a mixed flock in the woods near the sauna. I identified the following:
4 Indigo Buntings.
1 Downy Woodpecker (male).
1 Eastern Wood-Pewee.
2 White-eyed Vireos (song recorded). ML502397011
1 Yellow-throated Vireo (seen stealing butterfly from Wood-Pewee).
A possible Philadelphia Vireo; caught glimpse of head while singing. May have good recording. ML502399691 [BirdNet identifies recording as Red-eyed Vireo.]
2 Carolina Chickadees.
2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.
2 Carolina Wrens.
3 American Goldfinches.
1 female-type Black-and-white Warbler.
1 Northern Parula.
1 female-type Blackburnian Warbler.
Experiencing a mixed flock of passerines is to enter a zone of sudden high activity, marked by bursts of color, pattern and behaviour. If they will only show themselves long enough, flitting and hiding as they are, behind foliage and branches! The analytical mind grasps, wants to name and collect. But it can not be fully satisfied, has to settle for less. Try not to get frustrated, be grateful for the morsels you are given. Surrender to the cloud of unknowing.
Later in the afternoon, near the barn, I observed a magnificent male Blue Grosbeak perched, as well as a Yellow-billed Cuckoo flying by. [BirdNet later showed I had unwittingly recorded a singing Blue Grosbeak. ML502400951]
From the tree house balcony a flock of 11 Wild Turkeys could be seen.

4 September
Seen from the tree house, a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk hunting a squirrel with a red tail [Fox Squirrel] near the pond.
2 Black Vultures soaring.
A Solitary Sandpiper resting at the pond.
On a walk around the lake I flushed a Wood Duck, grayish head with pale markings, female or non-breeding male? [Gray head points to the latter.]
1 juvenile Bald Eagle showed nicely (video recorded by Emily), passing from East to West.

10+ Barn Swallows over the lake and 1 Chimney Swift.
1 Black-throated Green Warbler.
1 Chestnut-sided Warbler.
A gigantic Snapping Turtle by the lake.
Song variation by Carolina Wren "chew-chew-trrrrr"? ML502500871 [This hunch was eventually confirmed on 27 October.]
Eastern Wood-Pewee calling regularly, also seen.
Eastern Phoebe resident at the pond.
Great Crested Flycatcher calling near the tree house.

5 September
In the morning, 2 secretive Wood Ducks under the willows in the pond. A Black-and-white Warbler seen from the window of the tree house signaled the arrival of a mixed flock I was able to study for 20 minutes or so as it passed. The Black-and-white Warbler offered nice views as it was butchering a hairy caterpillar on a branch. The strong pattern with deep black makes me think it was a male.

The flock was silent, except for the scolding calls of Chickadees, none of which I saw. Straining my neck and eyes (looking up against the glaring light through the canopy) I was able to identify the following:
1 Canada Warbler [uncertain, see 23 September].
1 Magnolia Warbler.
1 female-type Chestnut-sided Warbler.
1 male Northern Parula.
1 Tennessee Warbler (a dirty yellow, so probably first winter).
And, trailing the group, what I think was a Blackburnian Warbler although I did not see the diagnostic pale lines along the back. What stood out was the bright orange-yellow of the face markings, throat and breast, fading into white belly and vent, offset by dark markings on the sides. Seen from below, the color looked like a bright yellow, almost the yellow of a Magnolia Warbler.

6 September
Flock of 11 Turkeys still present in the field overlooked by the tree house.
Pileated Woodpecker calling on a misty afternoon.
A family of Indigo Buntings come "chip"-ing past the balcony.
Pewees are sounding across the valley. ML502672551
A Barred Owl calling around 10 pm with the frog chorus in the background.

7 September
2 Chickadees seen from the window of the tree house.
A Turkey Vulture flew by so close, the rustle of its beating wings could be heard.
At sunset, a Green Heron stood on the limestone slab at the center of the pond.

8 September
A Carolina Chickadee had fresh outer tail feathers coming in, giving the tail a rounded appearance.
Went on a walk around the pond with Emily around 3 pm. A warm and sunny afternoon. Insects buzzing, frogs plopping in the algae soup at our feet. After rounding the south bend, where the willows grow, I see the backside of a brownish bird, flying from a willow, toward the north-east. First impression is like a large swallow or flycatcher of some kind. I point my binoculars. The bird is fast, can I focus in time? Boom! I see the white underparts, the cinnamon flash in the wing, the long tail and even the yellow base of the lower mandible: a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. I realise this was the bird with the cinnamon wings I glimpsed in the willows three hours earlier, standing on the balcony.
In the early evening, driving the ATV, I see a raptor flying away from me low among the trees. My first hunch is a hawk, a juvenile Red-shouldered or Red-tailed. But the silhouet is plump, the upperside is plain brown-gray and the tail is finely barred. This must be one of the Barred Owls we hear at night!
A Phoebe is quietly perched in the umbrous willows of the pond.
White-breasted Nuthatches are again present around the tree house.

9 September
15 Turkeys this morning on the pasture.
While working in the tower around 4 pm I hear a Barred Owl.
I finally get a chance to study the elusive Wood Ducks, although they are quite far [the distance from the balcony to the pond is about 400 ft / 120 m] and the light is waning. There are four of them, preening on top of the stone slab. All of them show a distinct white vertical line formed by the tips of the secondaries and a horizontal white line along the primaries. Their bodies are dark. The two birds on the right show a browner head and a clear-cut white eye-line. They must be females or perhaps juveniles. The other two have a pale gray head with faint white markings. The bird on the left shows red in the bill. I think they are both males in non-breeding plumage. Looking up from my notebook I notice a fifth bird. The light is now getting too poor to see much detail. What I do see is a white throat flashing on the preening bird. A sixth and seventh now come swimming from under the willows.
After we'd gone to bed, a duet between a male and female Barred Owl could be heard for some time. The male, with its bombastic voice, was closest to the cabin. ML502732281

10 September
Pouring rain all morning is not conducive to birding but Emily noticed a Great Blue Heron standing on the slab in the pond.
As we were getting ready for a rainy walk, I noticed a flock passing the balcony. Standing under the awning, I could make out several Gnatcatchers, multiple Tennessee Warblers and what I think was a Blackpoll Warbler.

11 September
A Broad-winged Hawk was sunning its tail and wings during a brief interval between showers. The bold black and white tail-bands (it was an adult bird), and the relatively unmarked pale underwing with black border, could be seen well with the naked eye. I saw an adult Broad-winged Hawk on about the same location six years ago (the gravel road down to Palmer Lane).
The rain having stopped, we went on an evening stroll through the misty meadows. A single Wood Duck was flushed from the weedy edge of the little lake. ML502757221 Hearing Barred Owls call is now so common, we no longer comment on it. Walking along the edge of the pond, I hear the squeaky call of a Wilson's Snipe overhead. Now calling here, now there, I can't see the bird in the twilight, but am quick enough to make a recording. ML502757851

12 September
A young Red-shouldered Hawk is again present by the pond. I am alerted to its presence by the mobbing of a murder of about 5 Crows.
The drumming of a Pileated Woodpecker sounds tribal.
Under a cold, clear and starry sky (unlike previous nights), distant but persistent calls of two Great Horned Owls can be heard. The usual Barred Owls are vocal as well.

13 September
The young Red-shouldered Hawk is still present, this time perched on the railing of the floating cabin. Hunting frogs?
In glorious light on a wind-still afternoon I do some bird watching. Standing still by the barn, not much happens. A Wood-pewee shows well, low in some trees. I hear the "psi-tik" of a Summer Tanager and see the bird flying overhead. I am able to quickly get it in focus and am hit with a dose of scarlet. It remains forever remarkable, a bird in a primary color. Actually the intense red of the bird makes me wonder if it isn't in fact a Scarlet Tanager but judging by the call it is not.
I walk up to the tree house and notice some birds in the wood-row with perfect light, so I halt once more. First I glimpse a Black-throated Green Warbler. Then, a female-type American Redstart shows well in the underbrush, flashing yellow tail-spots. A Chickadee. Eight Robins overhead, flying north, followed by two Grackles. A White-breasted Nuthatch and a Downy Woodpecker on lichen-laden branches. Then, I focus on a bird in the tree tops. It is looking back at me. A tanager, the body is bright yellow, the eye black and round. The bill shows a hint of pink. What´s more: the wings are blackish. Scarlet Tanager was in the works after all!
After 9 pm I recorded the zany cackling of Barred Owls. The loud noises caused some consternation with Emily and Wren. ML502801321

14 September
A Great Blue Heron is again present at the pond this morning. Some time later, a second Great Blue appears.
In the evening, Wren and I flushed a Green Heron from the edge of the lake. It flew into hiding in the crown of one of the larger trees.

15 September
Our attention is drawn to a loud noise coming from the direction of the barn. Three Black Vultures are clambering on the ridge of the roof, their claws scratching the rusted metal surface. A brutal sight, these all-black creatures encroaching on the human domain. If they can find a way in, there is a chance they might attempt to nest inside the barn. (In the right season, that is. We observed a nesting Black Vulture inside a deserted shed once at the Strawberry Plains Audubon center in Mississippi.)
Two White-breasted Nuthatches observed well in the quiet of the golden evening. One bird, presumably a male, shows a glossy black crown and hind-neck, with deep chestnut on undertail coverts. Very crisp-patterned overall. The female on the other hand has a gray crown, more diffuse coloration overall, and a black smudge on the cheek.

16 September
A raptor cried several times. Recorded it. Was it the young Red-shouldered Hawk still present, as evidenced by the rufous flash this morning? ML503187371 [Recording, although poor, contains the drawn-out, hoarse call of Red-tailed Hawk.]
At dusk, 7 Wood Ducks flew a wide figure 8 over the pond.
Several dozen American Robins migrated northward.

17 September
A Green Heron at the pond this morning.
A warm afternoon buzzing with insects. 13 Turkeys are resting in the shade of the woods' edge. Two males seem to be trailing the group somewhat.
Turkeys are up in the tall walnut tree now, eating Virginia Creeper berries.
[Recorded Hairy Woodpecker. ML502935681]

18 September
Song variations by Carolina Wren near the tree house. In the background American Crow, Blue Jay, Summer Tanager, Great Crested Flycatcher. ML502956471
Recorded and observed two Tufted Titmice at close range, a vireo [turned out to be Yellow-throated] singing in the background. ML502962181
Also from the tree house, awesome views of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo moving through the branches at mid-level, searching for prey.
Had an encounter with a large squirrel at leaving the front door of the tree house. Glued to a vertical branch, unafraid, we were eye to eye for what seemed a long time (maybe 10 seconds) [it was a Fox Squirrel].
Found what I think is a Barred Owl primary feather near the wood shop [actually Wild Turkey].
At early evening, three Wood Ducks landed in the pond. I was able to locate one of them with the binoculars, perched on a low willow branch, a female. Her white-framed eye seemed to peer back at me.
Several dozen American Robin are migrating north. Calls from Eastern Wood-pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Summer Tanager.

19 September
In the late afternoon, sunny and warm, a Yellow-throated Vireo and a male Black-throated Green Warbler (blackness of throat partly concealed by pale feather-edging) forage in the canopy above the tree house.
Probably rather good recordings of a Barred Owl. ML502979151

20 September
A Phoebe is persistently calling near the tree house this morning. ML503119491
On an evening walk with Wren, we encountered a (the?) Turkey flock. We had an interesting time observing them through the binoculars at incrementally closer distances.

21 September
Late morning today, an adult Red-tailed Hawk hung around the little lake.
At dusk, I saw the silhouettes of a Green Heron, a Common Nighthawk and three ducks in flight.

22 September
"Tuk"-call recorded beside the tree house [BirdNet identifies it as Scarlet Tanager]. ML503129291
This morning a Blue-winged Teal is resting in the pond. Overall color grayish but flanks slightly more rufous with blackish spots. Pale gray line along tail. Upon approaching I flush the duck. As it circles the little lake several times (before alighting on the lake) I get good views of the wings: the sky-blue, white and teal areas above and the pure white below, bordered with black. Also I see orange legs. I learn after consulting Sibley that the sky-blue (not gray-blue) on the wing means it is a male (in non-breeding plumage).

23 September
About 4.30 pm a mixed flock could be followed from the tree house balcony. First, a female-type Magnolia Warbler. Best views ever of Northern Parula (rufous breast streaks, green back in the sunlight) and Warbling/Philadelphia Vireo. This place just keeps giving. 10 minutes later, a female-type Blackpoll Warbler [eBird qualifying this as "rare" at this time of year raises doubt, but see also 10 and 25 September], a dashing male Black-and-white Warbler, a female-type Chestnut-sided Warbler and a Black-throated Green Warbler in quick succession. An Orange-crowned or Tennessee Warbler [most likely the latter]. A warbler with a yellow breast gave rise to some confusion. Weak head pattern and gray breast streaks, combined with apparent small size, reminded of Canada Warbler. But wingbars, yellow stopping before legs (white vent), and clear-cut black tail-tip below make this a Magnolia Warbler. The finale was clearly seeing the pale streaks on the back of a Blackburnian Warbler.

24 September
[Calls by unseen bird were identified as Wild Turkey by BirdNet.] ML503336021
It is an overcast morning. About 9.30, an Ovenbird collides with the balcony doors. We find it panting on the deck. The faint orange in the crown, the green above, the black markings below, the delicacy of the creamy-white ring of feathers around the lively eye, its panting with the bill slightly opened. The pink legs, the pointy tail feathers (the latter fitting a first-winter bird).

A hummingbird briefly hovered next to the tree house.
In the afternoon, watched carefully a male Black-throated Green Warbler. Fully black throat flaring to the sides, moss-green back, foraging, sometimes hovering, in the small stand of four trees in our meadow. Then, a Tennessee Warbler appeared. The two birds frolicked for a while.

25 September
A Red-tailed Hawk pursued by three crows this overcast morning. A second, long-tailed hawk was trailing the crows but I wasn't fast enough with the binoculars.
This afternoon, in the gloom of an approaching thunderstorm, I am delighted by another mixed flock passing the balcony. Is it the foreboding in the air that makes the birds seem closer than usual, and more quiet? Announcing the flock are the scolding calls of a pair of Carolina Chickadees, audible through the open balcony door. Some searching soon delivers a female-type American Redstart, a Tennessee Warbler (quite dark yellow and green, these first-winter Tennessee Warblers look almost like Orange-crowned Warblers). A rear view of a Yellow-throated Vireo, a glimpse of what probably was a Northern Parula, and fragments of a Magnolia Warbler: a black and white undertail, tiger-striped yellow flanks [a non-breeding male?], a white-rimmed eye in a gray face. A female-type Blackpoll Warbler, ten feet above me in the canopy. A White-breasted Nuthatch. And high above, two Gnatcatchers.

26 September
Occasionally I hear sneezy calls, making me think there is a presence of Hairy Woodpecker alongside Downy. [This was proven by the recording on September 17th. ML502935681]
A warbler near the balcony. One of those dingy yellow guys between Tennessee and Orange-crowned. What I noticed was contrast between pale undertail coverts and darker belly, which fits better with Tennessee. The bird was calling; the smacking quality of the abrupt calls points to Tennessee as well.
A Summer Tanager came into view nicely, feeding on Virginia Creeper berries. The yellow color, the shape of the bird's body, head and bill, and its size, oddly reminded me of Eurasian Golden Oriole.

27 September
Yesterday we were at the petroglyph when Wren cried: "I see two Turkey Vultures!" Emily, alert, said: "One of them has a white belly! I don't think it is a Turkey Vulture, could it be a hawk?" I saw the bird with the naked eye. From its size, long tail and bouts of rapid flapping I deduced it must be a Sharp-shinned Hawk. A Sharpie!
Today, Wren was reclining on the soft saddle of the ATV, which was parked by the tree house. She was peering up at the sky. "Daddy, is that a Turkey Vulture or a hawk?" I can barely see, with my impaired vision, a dot gliding fast towards the east. It looks like a hawk to me. Wren, hawk-eye!

28 September
Spent time on the balcony late morning with Wren & Emily. Wren points out a far-flying raptor, saying "A hawk!" I say "Are you sure it's a hawk? Maybe it's a Turkey Vulture." "Nah, it flew so fast!" "Not that fast. Did you see the rocking motion it made in flight?" "What do you mean, rocking motion?"
The prairie grass was waving in the sunlight. In the woodrow across the field, four Blue Jays flitted.
Somehow the recording failed but I observed some persistent and pronounced vocalisations by an excited female Turkey in front of the tree house. She was together with two other females. Her calls consisted of harsh notes repeated about six times in quick succession, first rising, then falling in pitch: "chug-chug-chug-chug-chug-chug-chug". Wondering what got her so agitated, I looked around and saw at the far end of the meadow two males, their erect necks projecting from the tall grass. The sun behind them lit up the flare of blood-red skin along their throats.

29 September
Only after the young Red-shouldered Hawk had come into focus, perched on the distant bridge-railing, its yellow legs bright in the morning sun, did I understand what the racket of the five crows by the pond had been about [see 12 September].
The blackness of Earth 🜃 has been transmuted in these Turkey Vultures sailing through the valley. On a sunny and breezy afternoon, they are in their element.
Wren is becoming quite the birder. She now recognizes Turkey Vultures by their mode of flight. This morning she correctly identified a Green Heron while riding with me on the ATV.
After sunset, three Eastern Bluebirds paid us a visit at the tree house.

1 October
Yesterday at the tower, Flicker-noises. A call relatively rarely heard is what seems to me Moorhen-like (Gallinule-like or "gallinulian" in North America), a bubbly "brrool". Also the more commonly heard Ring-necked Parakeet-like explosive cries "kjeew".
Around the lake this morning our Green Heron showed and a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Another hawk briefly seen near the tree house remains unidentified.
A Carolina Wren inspects the nooks of the tree house. Its pristine liveliness, the glint in its eye: it is possessed by an intelligence that is always grounded by the necessities of survival.

3 October
[Recorded a strange bouncy call BirdNet identifies as Great Horned Owl ML503555851]
At noon, the sun broke through. Had another encounter with a (the?) Fox Squirrel. The squirrel appears exceedingly inquisitive and robust. I'd like to build him a nest-box, attached to the tree house (a winter den). I noticed, the area around the nose stands out as pale whitish. The cheek has a strong orange wash.
Small groups of Blue Jays move through the trees, making small noises.
Early Fall, quiet, with pleasant warm sun.

4 October
I've started to recognise Black-throated Green Warbler by call. A little sharper than Yellow-rumped (which has been absent so far) but otherwise similar.
In the afternoon sun, an immaculate juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, soaring and then gliding south. The brown flash with the pale tail base I saw earlier, flying low through the trees, pursued by raucous crows, may well have been this bird.
The sudden drum of a Pileated Woodpecker behind me sounded like an automatic rifle.

5 October
This morning from the balcony I saw 15 Turkeys nearby, four of which were males engaged in group display. Close together, prancing in silence with slowness and dignity, their feathers puffed, tails fanned, the red protuberances on head and neck swollen.
Today we saw a (the?) juvenile Red-tail twice, in different locations, both times chased by crows.
Was able to watch for some time a Northern Flicker (daily heard, seldom seen) in the top of the tall walnut tree. A fiery red nape and black whiskers tell me this is a male.
Had a late afternoon encounter with two Tennessee Warblers just outside the tree house. Struck by the similarity with Wood Warbler from Europe: the size and shape, the yellow wash on the face and breast and the strong green tinge to the back. On one of the birds I noted pale tips to the primaries, stronger moss-green tone to the back than to the head and neck (a male?), white outer tail feathers (seen from below) and gray legs.

6 October
"White outer tail feathers" (see above) is probably more accurately stated "pale inner webs to outer tail feathers", forming something like tail spots as in Setophaga. Sibley paints tail spots only on the breeding adult male in flight, not on the female-type. Do only males have these? [Two instances I found on Ebird are indeed males ML194593461 ML63250401]

7 October
Breezy and sunny today. Stink bugs hopefully are nearing their apex. I guess they feel winter is coming. By the dozens they are entering the tree house through the cracks.
Earlier today, two Brown Thrashers as well as two Northern Mockingbirds were present near the barn.
A duck in the pond this afternoon, seen from the balcony, first appeared to me as a female Ring-necked Duck, then doubt crept in. Wasn't this a Wood Duck (two of which we flushed from the lake earlier today) or the Blue-winged Teal that was present on 22 September? After sneaking up on the bird, I received confirmation that my initial hunch was correct. The white eye-ring was now clearly visible as well as the bumpy crest.

8 October
A bit cooler today. Stink bugs have all but disappeared suddenly. Still sunny and breezy. New arrivals in the form of three Yellow-rumped Warblers in the four little trees. Also a Blue Jay lingering there. Seeing the Yellow-rumped Warblers after a summer of their absence feels like a reunion with old friends. Some moments later, the company turns into a mixed flock which partly envelops the tree house. I can study two Tennessee Warblers up close. I see Black-throated Green Warbler, Magnolia Warbler and Downy Woodpecker.

9 October
Adding to the glory of the sun-drenched meadow a Red-tailed Hawk soars this morning. A rusty red tail and active molt in the flight feathers tell me this is an adult bird, perhaps a new arrival or on passage. After the second cold night just above freezing, close to 10 Yellow-rumped Warblers frequent the wood-row.
Also a Sharp-shinned Hawk on this almost wind-still morning.
A quiet late afternoon, standing on the bridge of the tree house I hear two Barred Owls hooting in duet, as well as one or two Pileated Woodpeckers. The Yellow-rumped, Tennessee and Black-throated Green Warblers still linger in the woods' edge.

10 October
Having flushed them twice from the lake while driving the ATV this morning, I was lucky to get the two ducks with the bright blue wing patches in the binoculars. Obviously Blue-winged or maybe Cinnamon Teals, the overall impression was gray-brown, long-billed, long-tailed and strongly scalloped. The head-pattern looked almost Mallard-like in both birds, with a strong dark eye-line. It may have been the result of the strong morning light, but the pale area at the base of the bill I expected to see if these were Blue-winged Teals seemed absent. After consulting Sibley I realise that gray-brown coloration combined with strong head pattern point to Blue-winged over Cinnamon [the latter is also much rarer here]. This foray also yielded a White-throated Sparrow.
Clamouring of Barred Owls today across the valley in broad daylight. Also Flickers very active with all call types heard including the "wik-a-wik-a-wik-a". Again a young Red-tail mobbed by crows.
At dusk we have an encounter with a Barred Owl perched in the tall walnut tree. We stare at each other for a solid couple of minutes. Twisting its head, pointing its facial disk in a flash at tiny sounds inaudible to us. Its eyes dark, distant and ruthless. After it has flown away, Wren remarks: "That was interesting. Now we are a little bit like explorers!"

11 October
A murder of 18 crows this morning blotches the sky. Two Black Vultures perform acrobatics, at times dangling their long, corpse-colored legs.

13 October
A Red-bellied Woodpecker clung to the barn briefly.

14 October
Rounding the pond this afternoon, a single Wood Duck was flushed. It produced some soft, hoarse calls.

15 October
After a day with some rain, the evening rung with the calls of several Eastern Towhees.

16 October
On the afternoon of a dreary day, 12 Turkeys in the meadow behind the tree house.

17 October
In late-afternoon sunlight, good views of 7 female-type Blue-winged Teals resting on the muddy edge of the lake. Preening, stretching their wings, showing flashes of bright blue. Breasts are more rufous than the gray-toned heads, almost Mallard-like.

19 October
The second night of frost has passed. It is cold and sunny. I realise that the calls of the Pewees, so characteristic of these woods, have vanished with the arrival of colder weather. Birdlife seems more sparse now. There are Blue Jays, Yellow-rumped Warblers and of course the hardy Phoebes.
Around the pond, several Yellow-rumped Warblers can be observed well. A sparrow has taken up residence in the weeds bordering the pond since several days. It is very secretive. The dark maroon upper parts visible during short bouts of flight make me think it's a Song Sparrow.

23 October
A Red-tail mobbed by crows this morning.

27 October
A sunny day. Brought my binoculars in the hope of watching some of the new arrivals in the weeds by the lake. I felt blessed to get good views first of a female-type White-crowned Sparrow, its spotty wing bar, the soft gradients of gray and brown, the cream-coloured crown bordered by darker, more rufous stripes. Then, a Song Sparrow showed itself, the contrast between the cream malar stripe and the darker, gray cheek and eyebrow stood out to me for the first time.
Flocks of several dozens of Common Grackles have appeared in the skies.
Visual confirmation at last that Carolina Wren has an alternative song here. [See 4 September: ML502500871]

28 October
Like catching fairies at play in the morning sun, coming out on the balcony I find a cornucopia of birds at the pond. First I am surprised by the sight of a Belted Kingfisher sitting on the stone slab at the center of the pond, slamming a fish to death. The bird shows a hint of a lower breast band, and extensive orange on the flanks when wings are raised (a female). In the willows, a congregation of several Yellow-rumped Warblers, Eastern Bluebirds, American Robins and Northern Flickers. In the lake meanwhile, I catch sight of five Wood Ducks, two females and three males, the latter now having completed molt into breeding plumage.
A foray around noon yielded three Song Sparrows in the weeds along the pond, two American Goldfinches in the willows, some ten Black Vultures and as much as 18 Wood Ducks in the lake (11 males, 7 females), on guard and, sadly, easily flushed.
Along the shady trail near the Inverted Bird Blind I found several White-throated Sparrows vocalising, one Chipping Sparrow, several Cardinals, Bluebirds calling as well as Pine Siskins. I have come to know the sad chickadee-like song of the White-throated Sparrow as a familiar sound of winter in Tennessee. ML504619011 ML504616651
Two Red-tailed Hawks, an adult and a juvenile, frequent the pastures.

29 October
The juvenile Red-tail seen well this morning, a pale-faced individual.

30 October
A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the rain, eating berries near the balcony. A male as shown by the red throat. Hawk-like calls recorded. ML504620441
The ruckus of a small murder of crows always alerts: is there a hawk nearby?
Several hundred Grackles passed low, due north, in the drizzly afternoon.


Unless stated otherwise, text and images by Silvan Laan. All rights reserved. Last modified 11/20/2022