Welcome to my world!

Backyard Birding in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas:
Surrounded by great birding destinations, our favorite patch is still the backyard (or the front), where we've seen more than 270 species of birds. Sit awhile, and watch the river and yard with us!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

and the winner is....

May is not only a month of migration in the yard, but also a bustling, interesting time to observe the "ordinary" year-round residents and summer nesters that are easily overlooked when so many warblers and tanagers and other bright migrants distract us. 

Of course, these birds are not really ordinary at all.  For example, nothing beats a Buff-bellied Hummingbird for beauty and spunk. This one, perched in a patch of sunlight, is as lovely as any bird could be.  We are so lucky to have multiple buff-bellieds living here in ourTexas Rio Grande Valley yard.   I've been looking for their nest--I'm certain there's one in the yard --but the nests are so tiny, I haven't found it yet.   

an unfinished Altamira Oriole nest
Some of our yard nests are more obvious than others.  The Altamira Orioles, for example,  build a nest that cannot be ignored.  It hangs down, sometimes two feet long,  from a branch high on the northwest side of an oak or ash or cedar elm tree.  A busy pair of the orioles might build one nest and then, because of nervousness about the Bronzed Cowbirds that wait for a chance to lay eggs in the nest, or just fickleness about where they want to live, abandon it and build another. 

 That's what happened again this year.  A pair worked for several days and defended their nest from the cowbirds and even other Altamiras--and then left it to be blown apart by the wind.  I don't know where the new nest is, but it's somewhere close by--maybe in the neighbor's Tepehuaje tree or maybe across the Arroyo.  I haven't gone looking for it yet.  The orioles still eat oranges and seed from the feeders many times a day, but I'm disappointed that they abandoned the nest they built in one of our oak trees.

The last day I saw the birds at their abandoned nest was the day I took the picture on the right.  It was a spat between a first-year bird and one of the two older (more orange) Altamiras that had built the nest.  These are not usually fussy or aggressive birds (though they do join in on the mobbing of the screech-owls), so I was surprised to see them tumbling onto the neighbor's driveway below the nest.

Brown-crested Flycatchers started a nest in a birdhouse in the butterfly garden.  They put a large gray feather in the box that can be seen in the entry hole.  Not all cavity-nesting birds put nesting materials in their nest cavities (the screech-owls don't; I don't think our Golden-fronted woodpeckers do--both just lay eggs on the floor that is sprinkled with wood shavings or sawdust from the excavation, if it's a natural cavity, or that we have put in there if it's a man-made box). 
BC Flycatchers put all kinds of things in their nests:  feathers, snakeskins, grass, bark.  They usually have three broods, building a new nest in a different location each time.  At least that's what they've done in our yard. 

Brown-crested Flycatcher nest:  note the extra-large feather!

Brown-crested Flycatchers are not year-round residents here.  They arrive in March or April and raise several broods.  Unfortunately, some of the eggs hatch baby cowbirds.  See this post for photos of last year's feeding frenzy when they had hungry young ones.  

Carolina Wrens are year-round residents.  This one is grooming itself while taking a break from its nestlings that were snuggled in a hanging artificial plant on my neighbor's porch.  Wrens love to nest in man-made things: pots, plants, even one time the pocket of a pair of pants another neighbor had hung on his porch railing!  

My daughter's neighbors may wonder why she still has Easter decorations beside the front door.  It's because behind the bunny's ears is a nest containing five newly-hatched Carolina Wrens!

I don't know where the Black-crested Titmice built their first nest this year, but four just-fledged titmice had lots of fun with their parents at the bird baths this morning.

The young ones have crests that are more gray than black, making them look like the closely-related Tufted Titmice that live further north.  

These guys win the prize for strange nesting places.  Last year they nested in a cow's skull that decorates the neighbor's storage house.  Other times they have nested inside  metal posts on the boat trailer and the satellite dish.  Wherever these little guys nested this time, they are now out of the nest and all over the yard.  I think they win the award for cutest babies in the yard so far this year.

A few years ago the cute baby award went hands-down to the Plain Chachalaca chicks.  Precocial, they are out of the nest on the day they are born and soon are chasing around after the adults.  (If a bird is altricial, it is born naked and helpless and stays in the nest for a while.  By the time it is out of the nest, it's hard to tell an adult bird from a young one.)

adult Plain Chachalaca in a Wild Olive tree
I've been hearing  a Chachalaca chorus every morning for a week or so,  but  I'm sure they won't nest in our yard since neighbors on both sides have outdoor cats that are too much of a danger to the little chicks. Before cats lived so close,  these interesting birds nested in the Anacua tree beside the driveway.  

Clay-colored Thrush

Award for the most exciting bird in the yard today goes to the Clay-colored Thrush that sang all morning long from the tops of several trees.   We have never had a nesting pair, though we occasionally see them in the winter.  Until a few years ago (when they were called Clay-colored Robins) they were very rare in the US.   Now they nest in several locations in the Rio Grande Valley--but until now not in our neighborhood.  The song is beautiful (similar in tone to an American Robin) and I would love to have these birds be summer nesting residents.  

As long as we're handing out awards, Cutest Couple would definitely go to the Inca Doves, one of six species of doves that nest in the neighborhood.  (Other doves that are year-round residents are Mourning, White-winged, White-tipped, Common Ground Dove, and Eurasian Collared-dove.)

The most endearing thing Inca Doves do while courting (in addition to snuggling, grooming, and cooing a soft whirl-pool, whirl-pool) is raise their wings to show the soft pink underneath.  This guy raises his left wing; 

whereupon his mate raises her right.

No spring migrating warbler, tanager, nor even Painted Bunting can rival one of our resident birds for sheer beauty:  the Green Jay wins Most Beautiful no matter what the competition.  

Green Jays are not building their nest in our yard this year, but they are gathering nesting material here. 

Look closely (or enlarge with a click) and you'll see this Green Jay has a twig grasped in his feet.  He seems to be shaping it so that it will fit the nest he is building close by.

He holds it with his feet and shapes it with his beak.

When it's to his liking he takes it in his beak and flies away to the west where his nest is. A pair of Green Jays spent one afternoon flying back and forth from our yard to one a few yards over where I presume they are building the nest in a native tree or shrub.  I can't wait until they fledge a family of lively jays that will decorate the yard later in the summer.  Last year's Green Jay family was unrivaled in beauty and joyous antics.  (See this post from last summer for the jay family doing the Green Jay dance.)

Spring migration, which was certainly spectacular this year, is drawing to a close.  The colorful parade of birds that thrill us because of the brief time we have with them may be over for the year, but the fun of watching our yard will continue as it does every summer.  I can't imagine living in a better place for backyard birdwatching.  Living here makes me feel as though I've won first place in the birders' sweepstakes.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Another cold front this past weekend caused another fallout of spring migrants:  more warblers (Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Nashville, Tennessee, American Redstart--and FOY Canada); more vireos (Philadelphia, Red-eyed, FOY Warbling), more orioles and grosbeaks and tanagers (in far fewer numbers than last week, but still arriving). The flycatchers and their relatives were here to confuse and delight me: Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Eastern Phoebes, Eastern Wood-Pewees, and Eastern Kingbirds started to trickle in and empidonax flycatchers in their maddening (because all so similar) variations.  (Luckily, some of the empids were calling, identifying themselves as an Acadian Flycatcher and a Least.  A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher had a definitive yellow throat, though its belly was not as yellow as the Acadian's.) Chimney Swifts were passing through and swooping over the river,  as were a variety of swallows.  A few thrushes feasted on berries of fiddlewood and anacua trees.

It was a good weekend for me to sit in our bird garden with binoculars, camera, and I-phone.  It wasn't so good for our little screech-owls, however.  Their fallout was of a distinctly different kind.

Yesterday I was walking up the driveway when I happened to notice a little face looking out of the owl house. It was smaller than the adult face I usually see peering at me.  Before I could even stop or slow my gait, the little owl flew or fell out of the box, landing about 10 feet away.  It could not fly well at all, and I wonder if it isn't too early for it to be out.  The same birds that are so upset when the adult owls fly out of the box were just as upset with this baby.  Mockingbirds, Hooded Orioles, Curve-billed Thrashers immediately started fussing. Green Jays and Black-crested Titmice added their calls to the cacophony.

The owl hopped/flew under an ebony tree,  across the neighbor's drive and then into the yard of the vacant house next door.  Northern Kiskadees were especially upset by that time because their nest is in the ebony tree. It didn't seem to matter that the little guy couldn't come close to  flying up to the top of the tree. The Kiskadees were still fiercely protective.
(Enlarge this photo by clicking on it and you'll be able to find the owl among the grass and oak tree saplings.)

Northern Kiskadee nest in Ebony tree
        I didn't know what to do about the situation.  If I walked toward the owl, it would fly awkwardly away, further out in the open where it would continue to be mobbed.  Finally it found a hiding place among low branches and the roots of a brasilian pepper tree.  I decided the best thing for me to do would be to leave it there and hope things in the yard would settle down if I weren't making them worse.

I've been second-guessing myself about the wisdom of putting a nest box in our  narrow yard where it would be near other nests and next to a driveway where we drive and walk past it several times a day.

Hooded Oriole nest under frond of a Sabal Palm
However, the kiskadees, thrashers, and orioles all built their nests after the owls started nesting in the box in March.  The Hooded Orioles, in fact, have a nest up under the fronds of the Sabal Palm where the parent owls roost when not in the box.  A nearby pine tree holds up some of the palm fronds and makes a little sheltered place for the screech-owls to rest.  The woven pouch of the oriole nest (made from fibers pulled from the palm fronds) is  on the opposite side of the same tree.  For all their fussing at the owls, the orioles chose their own nest location.  There were plenty of palm trees to choose from.

I have not seen the owl since I left it at the base of the tree.  It couldn't fly well, but I believe it could move along branches.  When I looked back up at the entrance hole as I passed by the owl house, I saw another little face peering at me.  I hope it stays in the box a while longer.  And I hope its sibling survives outside the box.

The Eastern Screech-owl in this photograph was being mobbed by several species of birds.  Usually it sits unperturbed despite the ruckus, but here a Curve-billed Thrasher gets its attention by spreading wide its wing and tail feathers in an attempt to look larger and more threatening.  The owl opened its beak and hissed in return, and the encounter was a standoff.   

It's always a dilemma deciding what to do about birds that fall out of nests or injured birds   My son's family found three robins that had fallen out of a nest at their house a few days ago.  The nest had a large hole in it.  They repaired it as best they could and put it back in the tree.  The baby robins were obviously not fledgling age yet.  It is harder to tell if the screech-owl is old enough to fledge.  I usually just move birds to the safest location I can when I find them in trouble.  I don't want to make things worse by interfering. But I want to help if I can.

the little hummer traveled to see grandchildren with us
Two weeks ago I found a Ruby-throated Hummingbird that had apparently fallen into a  flower bed under one of our back windows. Thinking it might be temporarily stunned by a collision with the window,  I left it alone and watched it for awhile.   The flower bed seemed a fairly safe and sheltered place for a short time, but when the wind changed from the north I moved it to another bed and put a nectar feeder on the ground for it.  Eventually I brought it inside to keep it safe from neighborhood cats.

I know keeping a wild bird is illegal, but I have been unsuccessful in a search for a bird rehabber in the area. There's one in Houston (a six-hour drive)  that I may be able to take it to later this week when we go to our daughter's house for a visit.  For now, I'll put the hummer outside when I can watch it and keep it supplied with nectar and fruit flies. This is the first time I've tried to care for a wild bird. I think it's pretty obvious after two weeks that the little guy is not going to be able to fly again.

This is not the kind of fallout I wish for.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Fling, Part Three

Because the afternoon was too hot today for sitting outside,  I stayed inside reading a book about bird migration instead.   Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds, by Miyoko Chu, mixes details from scientific research on bird migration over the last several decades with stories about birds and those who study them. It makes for especially interesting reading right now when migration over the Rio Grande Valley is at its height.

The author, Miyoko Chu, a writer and editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, weaves scientific data and  vivid description into a fascinating narrative. But  I felt a little uneasy about the birds I might be missing outside (more warblers?  rare migrants?) while I remained inside to read a book about birds.  My favorite reading place is under a shade tree, but even shade today provided little relief from heat, wind, and earth blowing off the dry cotton fields.

Ironically, a poem quoted by Chu echoed my uneasiness:

Why read a book when there are birds
Printing clear and breezy words
Upon the cloud's white pages? When
A busy robin and a wren 
Are syllables of ecstasy!
A line of swallows on a tree,
Or wire, is a sentence, long
And sweeping.  A flying flock's a strong
Paragraph, while in the air
Is quilled elaborately and rare
Illumined manuscript in gold
And green.  And say, what book can hold
More fascination and delight
Than birds in migratory flight?
(--Collete M. Burns, "Why Read a Book?")

True, few books "can hold more fascination and delight than birds in migratory flight"--or in our backyard--but Chu's is a fascinating book that I highly recommend.

 I'll take  a break from the book (which really is hard to put down),  and finish posting photos I took last week when we had  that "fallout" of migrants in the yard. (Check out the  previous two posts for all the buntings and warblers that came to the party.)

First up in my photos today are the thrushes, a group of species that  have been the subject of scientific study of migration over the years.  Last week  Veeries, Gray-cheeked Thrushes, and Swainson's Thrushes stopped over in our yard to rest and refuel.  It took me a while on Tuesday to realize I was seeing three different species, as one after another thrush came to the baths. (Maybe I had been inattentive, but after all, I was busy with the 18 species of warblers that had flown in!)

When I finally sorted out spots, colors, and eye-rings, I realized I was seeing several different birds and three different species.  Pictured at the top of this post and at left is the lovely Veery, not quite as spotted as the other thrushes, with a  warmer, almost reddish, tint and only the hint of an eye-ring.

Gray-cheeked Thrushes are slightly heavier and larger than Veeries.  Their eponymous gray cheeks were a little hard to distinguish as they moved around under the trees and shrubs, but in the sunlight this field mark helps separate them from the Swainson's.

Swainson's Thrushes have more spots, buffier cheeks, and more of an eye-ring that could in fact be called spectacles.

 Here a Swainson's perches on the brush pile alongside a Gray Catbird at the terra cotta saucer bath.  I wanted to get pictures of the different thrushes together, but they seemed to be playing a kind of tag, one flying off just as another arrived.

Orchard Oriole

The most noticeable migrants in the yard were probably the orioles.  The oranges I put out for our resident Altamira Orioles and summering Hooded Orioles were quickly eaten by migrating Baltimore Orioles and Orchard Orioles.  We replenished the supply several times a day, and when we ran out of oranges, I put grape jelly in the empty orange peels.

Baltimore Orioles occasionally winter here.  Orchard Orioles historically nested in the area, but I  don't know of any recently.  A few years ago a Fuertes's  Oriole, sometimes considered a separate species and sometimes a distinctive subspecies of the Orchard, spent the summer in our yard, singing almost constantly.  It often interacted with the Hooded Orioles. If there was a female Fuertes's,  I couldn't tell it from the female Hoodeds.  The bird returned the next summer, also, but I haven't seen one since.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Although these last two orioles are both adult males, the one above is more orange.  Perhaps it's an older bird.  The one above is in more shadow than the lower one, however, and that may make it appear darker orange.  Whatever the exact shade of gold or orange, a Baltimore Oriole is a beautiful bird.  When they are in the yard to rest between legs of their long migratory journey, they adorn the trees, feeders, and baths with a richness of color than is almost unparalleled.

The smaller brick-red Orchard Oriole is also lovely.  Note the black tail that also distinguishes it from the Baltimore.

Absent from the yard last week were  Bullock's Orioles which we usually see in small numbers during migration.  A four-oriole day is a great one, however, so I won't complain that a Bullock's didn't appear with the others.

Scarlet Tanager
Two Tanager species also graced the yard last week. Brightly colored migratory birds, Tanagers are almost always among the birds that "fall out" on the coast following cold fronts in the spring.  The Scarlet Tanager is the brightest, its red color almost florescent and contrasting starkly with black wings and tail.

The Summer Tanager, which winters in Mexico,  does not migrate as far as the Scarlet which winters in South America.  In fact, we had a Summer Tanager that wintered here in our yard.  It was here before the January freeze and I was relieved to see it after the ice storm safe and sound.

Summer Tanager
The red of the Summer Tanager is a rosier red than that of the Scarlet Tanager.  Young males are yellow and become quite blotchy as they begin to get red in the spring.  This one has almost finished the molt that will make it completely red.

As I look at the photo of this Summer Tanager, I can't tell what is in its beak. They were eating berries of the fiddlewood much of the time they were here, but I know they also eat insects, especially bees, and since this picture was taken in an esperanza which does not fruit, I think the bird may be eating a bee.  Sometimes Summer Tanagers are called "beebirds" for their fondness of the insects.

This Summer Tanager is clearly eating a bee.  I took the photo in September when the bird was migrating back from the north.  As I sat on my upstairs deck the bird was literally snapping the bees with its heavy bill, producing a sound that from only about 8-10 feet away from me was surprisingly loud.

Although Orioles were quite numerous last week, even more abundant were the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. These bright, beautiful, but slightly comical-looking birds flocked around the feeders eating striped and black sunflower seeds as well as the fiddlewood berries that were ripening just behind our largest feeder. Sometimes berries or jelly stained their  large beaks dark purple.

The amount of red on each male's breast varied.  The one pictured above was distinctive because of the large patch of red on its breast and the additional red on the throat.  The one below is probably a younger male, its rose-breast not yet as extensive as it will later be.  Younger males also have brown feathers mixed in with the black on the back and wings. An older adult male's black is so black,  and its white so white, that it is a distinctively beautiful black, red, and black bird.

The brown striping of the female Rose-breasted Grosbeak can be seen in the photo below, the bird on the left.  She is sparrow-colored but all-grosbeak in size, shape, and beak.   When she flies you might see a flash of buffy yellow underwings.  (A female grosbeak in the winter here is likely to be a Black-headed rather than a Rose-breasted.  Females of the two species look similar,  though the male Black-headed is a handsome black and orange. A young male visited our feeders in late winter.)

I finally updated the list of yard birds I keep in the sidebar.  So far this year we have seen 155 species in the yard. Many of them were added in the last week. Not only did we have a good number of species, but we also had large numbers of single species.  At one time there were 13 grosbeaks on the small feeder by the upstairs backyard window while others dined at the front feeders.  At another time I counted 9 orioles on the front deck.  (Today it was obvious that migration is tapering when only a single grosbeak ate at the back feeder and only Hooded and Altamira Orioles, taking a break from nest-building, tore pulp from the orange halves.)

Orioles, grosbeaks, tanagers, thrushes, buntings, warblers!  The highlight of spring migration is not a single bird, incredibly beautiful as many of them are;  it is the amalgamation of colors, shapes, and sometimes even the songs of these traveling winged wonders.  All year long we can enjoy the singular beauty of birds.  But during migration we celebrate their collective beauty, perseverance, and strength.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring Fling, part two

Watching warblers wouldn't be nearly so much fun if it were always easy to identify each one. If they are high in the trees or flittering around too much, or if they are just one of those drab "confusing fall warblers" (as the Peterson Guides admonish), it's really--well, confusing.  Even in spring when warblers are not usually drab I can be confused.  

I think I'm looking carefully, in minute detail, at each field mark--but then when I consult the guide I find I have forgotten to notice if the vent is yellow or the eye-ring broken.  Thank goodness now for cameras that can zoom in close and let me examine the birds at my leisure after I've left the yard and the exciting sport of backyard warbler-watching.  But even then, I can't always tell if the bird really has a yellowish tint on its underparts or if that's just the sun reflecting off its whitish feathers.  

I think the bird above is a Nashville warbler.  No wing bars.  Olive back.  Eye-ring and yellowish underparts.  In other photos of it, it almost looks to be an Orange-crowned, another drab warbler.  But this picture was taken in late April and the wintering OCWAs were mostly gone.  So I say Nashville.  It's my yard.

 This week Nashville Warblers and Tennessee Warblers were everywhere.  Today I watched a Tennessee Warbler (small, olive-green but with an eye-line rather than an eye-ring) eat cranberry jelly from an orange half right outside the window. (The Golden-fronted Woodpeckers had cleaned out the last of the orange halves, so I just filled them with grape jelly.  When the migrating Baltimore Orioles gobbled up all the grape jelly, I refilled them with cranberry jelly.)  Field guides say the OCWA and TEWA are the same size, but this Tennessee looked really tiny.  Even from a few inches away on my window sill.  I guess it's the slimmer head makes it seems so miniscule.

Blue-headed Vireo

Warblers have sharp little beaks which distinguish them from vireos.  I try to remember to look at the beak of small birds first to try to place them in categories.  A Philadelphia Vireo, for example, is similar to a warbler but its larger vireo beak is a distinguishing clue.  

Four vireo species joined the yard party at this week's spring fling:  Philadelphia, Blue-headed, White-eyed and Red-eyed.  The phillies' bar-less wings and  yellowish underparts make it easy to confuse with wing-bar-less warblers, but the vireo beak, slightly bigger than a warbler's, helped me identify it.

Red-eyed Vireo
I did not see the White-eyed but I know he was here because I heard his call: quick! give me three beers, chick!  (That's my favorite phonetic transcription of the White-eyed Vireo's call.  Definitely more fun than chick'-a-per-weeoo-chick')

I've digressed about the vireos.  Let's get back to the warblers.  Most of them were anything but drab and most, if they weren't at the birdbath were in the  live oak, tallest tree in the yard.  A Black and White Warbler scurried up and down the trunk, a Cerulean Warbler gleaned the topmost leaves, and a Blackpoll hid in the leaves so that I almost thought it was another Black and White.  All of these were in the shadows or too quick for a snapshot.  
Blackburnian Warbler

I did, however, get a somewhat fuzzy photo of what's long been my favorite warbler.  I had not seen one in several years, but the pattern of the bright orange and black was unmistakable. 

My first Blackburnian was in the Smokey Mountains on a camping trip thirty plus years ago.  I was an adult, but I'd been dreaming of Blackburnian Warblers since I was a kid pouring over the Roger Tory Peterson field guide.  Living in Oklahoma, we didn't see a lot of the brightest warblers.  I had hoped to see one on our trip to the east and I was thrilled when I did.  That was then; this is now. Here in the Rio Grande Valley it's almost like I have the whole  field guide in my own backyard.  

When sorting out warblers, or just dreaming about seeing them, I always consult a variety of field guides. Peterson's guide is still the best for drawings of warblers.  Though I've purchased the Peterson warbler app for my iphone, I still browse the warbler pages of the latest Peterson guide when I'm hoping for a warbler drop-day. I especially like the way the pages are organized with similar birds on the same pages. For example, Black and White, Blackpoll, and Cerulean Warblers  are pictured on a page of "Warblers: Black-striped, gray, or bluish." I'm looking now at the plate titled "Warblers: Orange or chestnut patches" and just realized that  on Tuesday I saw all five of the birds on this beautifully drawn page:  Cape May Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, and American Redstart!
Roger Tory Peterson signs my old field guide.

[When Roger Tory Peterson came to the first Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival seventeen years ago, I asked him to sign my first field guide, one my father gave me when I was eight years old. 
An elderly man by then, Peterson still birded the world and spoke at the festival about a recent trip to Antarctica.  A world birding expert, he considered the Rio Grande Valley one of the top birding spots in the country.  I agree with him.  For me, the top birding spot is sitting in an easy chair in my own backyard.] 

More visitors to our backyard Spring Fling: 

Black-throated Gray Warblers are often in the yard in the winter.  This one might have been here for a while or it might be part of the horde of travelers this Spring.  It will go north along with other migrants.

The yellow-capped, chestnut-sided Chestnut-sided Warbler is cheerful looking, cocking its tail much like a wren.

Northern Parulas have a distinctive patch of yellow-green on their backs.  A dark band washed with orange on the breast below a yellow throat makes this bluish colored warbler one of the loveliest.

I am assuming this Waterthrush is a Northern because of the lateness of its migration.  About a month ago I supposed the waterthrushes were Louisiana which migrate in earlier spring.

Nothing says Spring better than a bright yellow Yellow Warbler.  Its rusty breast streaks indicate that it is a male.

This bright guy is a Magnolia Warbler, one of the loveliest warblers of all.  My Ibird Pro app tells me a group of these is known as a bouquet.  How appropriate for such a spring beauty!

A male American Redstart is bright and fluttery like a butterfly.  Along the driveway, where a thicket of trees and shrubs (brasil, fiddlewood, granjeno, anaqua) provide cover and berries, half a dozen American Redstarts flittered and looked at me with curiosity.

I  heard the Common Yellowthroat's witchety witchety witchety witch and finally located him in the butterfly garden.  

Not to be outdone by the birds, this Anole is another splash of color  in the butterfly garden.  

Northern Parula and Tennessee Warbler

The magic of migration and the possibilities of a spectacular fallout of warblers is alive in our small yard.   The yard is quieter today but some of our Drop Day birds linger, and new ones continue to arrive.  I'll post pictures of orioles, grosbeaks, and thrushes tomorrow.  Look for Spring Fling, part three.