Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just passing through

Birding is a constant reminder of the shifting seasons. In September, we started to see more of the "winter birds" that frequent our backyard -- cardinals, finches, chickadees, and woodpeckers, most of all. We had already said goodbye to the beautiful Indigo Buntings, with regret. Now the hummingbirds seem to have left as well.

But the past few weeks have been the height of warbler season. Like smart tourists, warblers pass through Indiana on their way somewhere else. They eat insects, not seeds, so I'm not expecting them at my feeders, but in the spring and fall there are brief periods in which the woods are full of them. Some stay high in the treetops and are difficult to see without a birding scope, but others will come down to forage in the shrubs.

Saturday and Sunday, we floated quietly along the shore of Lake Monroe, tracking a little group of warblers as they hunted for bugs in the exposed tree roots. The pictures aren't perfect -- just try steadying a telephoto lens in a rocking canoe sometime!--but good enough for the moment. The picture at the top of this entry is a female Blackburnian Warbler. The male, when he's in breeding plumage in the spring, is even more striking, with a bright orange throat -- but I'll have to wait until spring to look for that.

This one is a Bay-Breasted Warbler. Note the pale pinkish-red along the sides. We saw several of these, all travelling together along the shore. There was also a Carolina Wren with the group for awhile. None of these birds seemed to mind us being so near, as long as we stayed in the canoe just off shore.

A couple of weekends ago we saw a Northern Parula, another warbler, at Lake Greenwood. We had been looking for a green heron, but hey! this was a great find. Part of the excitement of birding is that we never know what we'll see. I can't wait for next time!

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