The yard is quiet. The songbirds of summer have been gradually leaving for their wintering areas and taking their voices with them. I miss their songs. I have spent a lot of time birding with my ears. Now it is time to bird more often with my eyes because there is a silence on the land.
Not all the birds of summer have left. Some are still feeding young, but because the breeding season is over there is not the same need to sing to attract a mate or to announce territory, so most songbirds are relatively quiet at the moment.
The American goldfinch is a late nester compared to most other songbirds. It typically lines its nest with the fluff from thistles that have gone to seed, and that doesn’t happen until August. They can often be seen in grassy fields with their young. Some juveniles await their parents’ attention in shrubs along the field edges or on the stems of sturdy plants. This past week, I saw many hard-working goldfinch parents feeding their young.
Pine siskins are considered occasional here in summer. They are now moving through our area in large numbers. We should see them more often now throughout the autumn and winter months as they become more common on the Peninsula. American robins are silently moving through in large flocks, stopping to rest and feed or visit the bird bath as they prepare to fly further south. They are quiet for the most part, except for an occasional whimper at dusk.
Warblers are silently skulking about in the undergrowth. Movement of the leaves and branches give their presence away. They are particularly fond of the bird bath these days. They are sneaky as they try to find their way into the bird bath when the song sparrow is not hogging it! The sneakiest of the lot is the Wilson’s warbler. The bright yellow plumage and black cap are often visible as it sticks its head out from under a leaf to see whether the coast is clear! Quite nearby is the subtler colored yellowish green orange-crowned warbler that is also trying to find a good time to catch a bath or a drink. The common yellowthroat has also been creeping through the undergrowth watching for a turn at the bird bath.
And last, but not least, the black-throated gray warbler, made its presence known this morning. It, too, wants a crack at having a bath or a drink!
Golden-crowned kinglets, flickers and dark-eyed juncos are still with us in relative silence. I have seen several “murders” of crows in the last few days moving silently over the golden fields to the large spruces that stand tall along the edges of the forest.
So it is, as my interpretation of the old saying goes, “the eyes have it”!
The land is silent now and will be for a while longer. So grab your binoculars and bird in the silence with your eyes. Guaranteed … you will see a lot!
”Common Birds of the Long Beach Peninsula,” by Kalbach and Stauffer, is available from the Chinook Observer, Bay Avenue Gallery, Time Enough Books and the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau.