Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Starting the Day Right

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Squadrons of young robins in their fieldfare-like plumage came through Indigo Hill today.

Jules and I started the day off right this morning with an hour-plus of bird watching from the deck on the southwest corner of our house. Between 7:30 and 8:45 am we saw (or heard) 32 species and I digiscoped a couple of birds.

Here's the list: cedar waxwing, red-eyed vireo, white-eyed vireo, blue-gray gnatcatcher, northern cardinal, Carolina chickadee, Carolina wren, tufted titmouse, mourning dove, American crow, eastern bluebird, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, American robin, blue-winged warbler, barn swallow, European starling, field sparrow, common yellowthroat, white-breasted nuthatch, summer tanager, eastern wood-pewee, American goldfinch, wood thrush, scarlet tanager, Baltimore oriole, yellow-throated warbler, yellow-billed cuckoo, blue jay, indigo bunting, pileated woodpecker, and eastern towhee.

Of special note was the summer tanager juvenile female that killed, processed, and ate a giant cicada on the lawn. Summer tanagers are a red-letter bird for our farm. Also notable was the adult yellow-throated warbler that spent about 20 minutes foraging and anting in our sycamore and birch trees. Frustratingly hard to digiscope, the bird would not sit still long enough for me to get a really good shot. But as you know, that never stops me from taking pix and sharing them here in BOTB.

We get yellow-throated warblers visiting our hilltop each fall. This one is appropriately perched in a sycamore, since the species was formerly known as the sycamore warbler.

Here's the yellow-throated warbler anting in our birch tree. He/she crushed ants and wiped them into the wings and body feathers.

A big honking bill helps the summer tanager capture and kill big honking insects, like cicadas, wasps, and hornets.

It took the tanager at least 15 minutes to consume this cicada. Note the large bill and overall uniform ochre coloration. These help to tell this species from the more common (here in SE Ohio) scarlet tanager.


On August 16, 2006 at 3:30 PM teageeare said...

I remember the last emergence of the 17-year cicada in Northern Illinois in 1990--cicada wings all over our patio! Next emergence is due next year.

On August 16, 2006 at 5:30 PM Anonymous said...

What, no house sparrows?!? Is that even possible? If that's true, then you certainly gave this post the right title.

Circleville, OH

On August 16, 2006 at 7:35 PM ornitholoco said...

Is the Yellow-throated Warbler rubbing its back against the tree?

On August 17, 2006 at 12:22 PM Bill of the Birds said...

Teageeare: When we had the 17s last, our turkeys enjoyed their best breeding success ever--poults and adults gorged on the large bugs.

Since we quit feeding suet dough, the HOSPs have split for parts unknown. We expect they'll be back this winter, tho.

Ornitho: The warbler was sort of squishing the ants in his beill and then preening them thru his feathers. He might have been rubbing up against the tree where he'd smeared ant parts...not sure. The acid in the ant guts acts as a pesticide in ridding the bird's feathers of mites. And this guy (?) was in primo condition.