Autumn is well established even though the days continue to be warm and sunny. Bird songs have changed and the woods echo with Chickadee and Nuthatch notes accompanied by the drumming of Woodpeckers. The Cardinal's cheep is heard in the berry bushes and crows caw overhead. Male Red-winged Blackbirds started flocking in early August and were gone by the middle of the month, the females following soon after. Each week since another familiar bird has gone missing.
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds also leave ahead of the females. This lady was perched on a branch near the river last week but she too was on the move south. I have seen a number of migrant warblers including Black and White, Nashville and Canada Warblers in the past few days.
Juvenile Flycatcher, identity uncertain
I took this picture of a juvenile Flycatcher of some sort. Bird identification in the fall can be very challenging with adult breeding feathers gone and young birds still in dull colours. The tree was full of these Flycatchers one noon hour last week with at least fifteen of them perched and resting in the branches.
Blue Jay with a caterpillar
Blue Jays are found here all year round but I seldom see them. I don't know if their numbers are decreasing. I used to have them visit my feeders in the winter, particularly for peanuts, but have not had one around the house for a long time. This week I found a flock of them close to dusk as they chattered and feasted on caterpillars on the limbs of one tree. They must engage in some migration activity and perhaps our winter jays are a different population than our summer residents.
Over the next few weeks migrating ducks will rest in our local rivers and ponds. The tiny and plain coloured Pied-billed Grebe blended in with the muddy banks of a reservoir in the city this month. Some ducks and raptors will be spending the winter here, coming from the far north to our relatively mild weather. Bufflehead, Goldeneye and Common Merganser ducks are common from November to March and Bald Eagles and various owls will be here in the same time period. The arrival of Tree Sparrows, Juncos, Crossbills and Redpolls will let us know that winter is just around the corner.
It seems that all the birds have fled, but really we are just going through a changing of the guard in the forests, waterways and meadows.