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Friday, September 30, 2011

Another reason to remember September

All was quiet in my yard late this afternoon.  The sun had dipped almost behind the line of trees to the west of the backyard.  In a few parts of the yard, its rays still touched trees or shrubs.

The birds were quiet.  I was watching the flight of the Chimney Swifts overhead and idly attending to the constant battle of the hummingbirds.  There were at least three chasing each other about.  The cardinals were at the feeders enjoying their bedtime snacks and the mockingbirds were still patrolling the yard.  I was taking it all in and reflecting on the fact that I had not seen any White-winged Doves in the yard in more than a week.  Periodically through the year, these doves abandon my yard and this seems to be one of those periods.  All was normal for a late afternoon in autumn and I wasn't expecting to see anything unusual.  And then, I did!

From the shrubbery along the fence, I heard an unfamiliar "chuck."   It was only unfamiliar in the sense that I don't usually hear it in my yard, but I thought I knew what it was.  I started looking for the source of the sound, scanning the shrubs with my binoculars.  And suddenly, there it was - big as life and twice as beautiful. A Brown Thrasher.

Now, Brown Thrashers are high on my list of favorite birds and I'm always hoping to see them in my yard, but I almost never do.  They only ever visit me during migration and not often then.  It had been a couple of years since I had seen one here and that was during spring migration.  But there he was sitting among my shrubbery with a huge insect - apparently a cicada - in his beak.

I knew that if I went inside for the camera he would disappear, but when he dropped down to the ground to consume his meal, I had to try.  I ran for the camera and came back outside and tried to locate him again.  I finally did.  He was in the shrubs again but mostly hidden by limbs.  I couldn't get a clear shot at him with the camera and the light was fading fast.  I had to acknowledge defeat, but then defeat and I are old acquaintances when it comes to trying to photograph birds.

His visit just reinforced for me what a remarkable month this has been in my backyard.  In addition to my usual birds, I've had a Rufous Hummingbird, a (probable) Black-chinned Hummingbird, Yellow-breasted Chats, Baltimore Orioles, just to name a few of the standouts.  And now at the very end of the month, almost at the last hour of daylight, I get a Brown Thrasher!  Sometimes the life of a Backyard Birder is very good indeed.


  1. What a wonderful end to September, Dorothy. We've still got a few hummingbirds and I saw a small brown bird today that I was unfamiliar with. Some sort of sparrow I'm sure, but it looked like a young one to me, and not very skilled at flying. It took it a couple of tries to get off the ground and up on top of the fence.

  2. It has been an especially interesting migration season so far, Jayne, and it's still happening. Who knows what treasures October will bring?

  3. It truly was a blessed week for backyard birding. We had two Brown Thrashers that were a hoot to watch together. One came to the drip and would sit in the birdbath. Their behavior reminded us of the Roadrunner that lived in our yard for years- until he got in the garage and ate the rubber snakes.

    The Blue Gray Natcatchers have been exciting also. The Baltimore Orioles were here for 12 days and two five pound bags of oranges later they migrated. The Hummers moved on too. All our birds must have taken advantage of the north wind the other night and headed further south.

    With cooler weather we can't forget the birds are still in need of fresh water.

  4. The roadrunner ate the rubber snakes??! Wow! That is just weird.

    It sounds like you've had much the same migrants in your yard as I've had, Elkhartjim. It's just been an amazing time. And your reminder is right on target: Keep those birdbaths and other water sources filled, folks! The water that we provide may be the only water that the birds are able to find. Both migrants and our resident birds will be more dependent than ever upon our provision of water.

  5. The RR either ate the snakes or somebody stole them. We kept finding him hanging out in the detached garage and couldn't figure it out. I went looking for the snakes to deter (not very well) the birds from nesting on our porches and could not find them. The snakes and the RR disappeared all about the same time.

    We miss him except for all those years he roosted on our porch and would coo incessantly at day break. We often would see him running across the yard with a snake dangling from his beak. Darn...I'm really missing him.

  6. Roadrunners are really interesting birds. I've never had one that took up residence in my yard. In fact, I've never seen one in my yard, although I do see them occasionally in the neighborhood. Your experience with the bird is fascinating!