There are new voices in the backyard this week. Yesterday, I heard my first Orchard Oriole of the year, always a welcome sound.
Also, yesterday there were a pair of Barn Swallows circling over my yard. I usually don't get these beautiful swallows except as passers-through, but how delighted I would be if this pair should find a spot to nest in my yard.
The neighborhood Purple Martins have been very active in my skies also this week. I counted seven swooping around after insects late in the afternoon yesterday. I always feel a pang of guilt when I see them over my yard because my martin house has been taken down and stored away because of the plague of House Sparrows that we have. But evidently they find sufficient places to nest here, and for that I am grateful.
I could not tell you how many hummingbirds I have in my yard at the moment. There are at least two Rufous hummers still here, but more Ruby-throat males come through every day and it is almost impossible to say how many are here at any given time. I haven't seen any females yet.
Plenty of winter visitors are still here, too. The Pine Siskins have reduced their numbers over the past week, but I still have a sizable flock visiting my feeders every day. Moreover, every day now I also see some of their cousins, the American Goldfinches, as birds that have wintered farther south drift my way on their route north.
Tuesday afternoon, late, as I was watching the platform feeder in my backyard, I became aware that I was seeing three kinds of finches at the feeder at the same time. In addition to a goldfinch and a siskin, there was a beautiful and very colorful male House Finch feeding there. It was a wonderful moment.
I still have White-throated and Chipping Sparrows, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and now they've been joined by (Sigh) Brown-headed Cowbirds. Yesterday, too, I thought I heard a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, but I never could be really sure.
It is an exciting time. The cast of characters changes almost daily. Who will arrive tomorrow?