Tuesday, September 10, 2013

July 2013: Birds in a Snit

In July there are still sweet bird songs. As I sat by the Second Pond on our land, I often heard a solitary song from a white-throated sparrow: Peabody, Peabody, Peabody…. I could still hear a vireo’s repetitive song in the distance and the pewee seemed to sing more than ever. But there were snicker snacks in the honeysuckle.

So exactly when humans are settling into the slower pace of summer, the birds trying to keep track of and feed their young are going crazy. Yes, I raised a child through several summers but he couldn’t fly and worse still flop down into the thick vegetation. The strategy of yellowthroat parents seems to be command the heights of the vegetation, getting to be 3 to 5 feet high now

And then look down.

Dive at any sign of little yellow throats, then gain the high leaf once again, ever watchful.

I took that video on July 8 and compared to the snitting state of the female yellowthroat on July 5, things were getting under control. On the 5th I saw her frantically hopping around a honeysuckle bush, more or less a blur like the photo I lifted from the video

Perhaps she was hoping that her fledglings would do the sensible thing and perch high up in the bush with the pretty red berries. By the 8th the yellowthroats figured out that keeping track of the kids was a two parent job and that they were the bird equivalent of rug rats.

Through out the spring I have been noting that while the warblers, especially the redstarts and yellowthroats, always seemed on edge, the sparrows kept cool. The white-throated sparrow tried to bring peace to the valley with its song and the song sparrow hardly sang at all but slowly went about its business listening to the frantic calls of other birds.

On July 8 I saw a sparrow with all the marking of a song sparrow but it was so puffed up and beside itself in a honeysuckle bush with food in its mouth ready for delivery to a missing fledgling

that I first thought it was not a song sparrow at all. Hard to identify a bird that looks completely out of sorts.

But invariably the head swivels in my direction

And though I get more sure of my identification, I began to feel like a rather useless old man. No help at all for the poor birds. So don’t enjoy the video.

Next July I will make another attempt to better understand this frantic phase of bird life perhaps with a better camcorder. Or I’ll just shut my eyes and listen to the melodious white-throated sparrow with counterpoint from the pewee.

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