Over the weekend Gus and I went walking around our neighborhood and while he walked, I counted birds. I saw my first Orioles of the year down at the park on Sunday, as well as my first catbird. Later in the day I saw a catbird in my neighborhood and an oriole at the bog. As I was leaving the house yesterday afternoon to walk down to the bog I had barely reached the corner of my yard when a bird flew up from the ground and landed on a branch about 12 feet in front of me. With a quick glance I knew it was something I had not seen before, so I trained my bins on it, trying to decipher what it was. My mind raced through species; Ovenbird? Wood thrush? Hermit thrush? But none of these fit. This bird was warm brown above with no eye ring and no visible spots on its breast.
While I waited for the bird to turn around and as I prayed it would not fly off I grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures. All the time my mind is racing to take in what I am seeing and match it with what I have read about in my bird guides.
With the help of my smart phone birding app I realized it was a Veery! While I have heard Veeries before I had never seen one. Veeries are woodland birds that are in the thrush family along with robins, bluebirds, and wood thrushes. Unlike the other thrushes, this species has few spots on its breast limited to the upper chest and it is a warm brown overall, whereas most of the other thrushes have some gray in them and more distinct spotting on the breast. Also, the other woodland thrushes have eye rings or “spectacles,” a lighter area around the eyes that bleeds toward the beak giving the bird the effect of wearing a pair of spectacles. I have this species on my Life List as a species I have heard in Connecticut, but this is the first time I have ever seen one! It stayed around long enough for me to play with the settings on my camera and that is why in the last photo it looks a bit redder than it does in the upper photos. This is species number 61 for my backyard!
I have been waiting and watching for the chimney swifts to return to this area but until this morning I had not seen any. Now as I sit on my back porch eating my breakfast and drinking my coffee I hear their distinctive chatter and look up to see two flying in the open bit of sky to my west.
While the birds will fly all over the area, I usually see them first in this open patch. Last year some nested in my neighbor’s chimney seen here and I would often see them fold their wings and dive straight down into the brick abyss. It is such an amazing sight to see! Chimney swifts need a vertical surface to nest on. They cannot rest on a branch or raise their young on a horizontal surface.
While I have had numerous visits from Carolina Wrens to my feeders and yard I was astonished this morning to find a House Wren here! I have lived here for a year and half now and have never seen this species in my yard! I first caught the movement of a small bird out of the corner of my eye low in the brush to my right.
When I looked through my bins I saw the barred area along its tail and the grayish brown, rather than warm butterscotch color of a Carolina wren. Also, the Carolina has a buff eye brown whereas this little bird has a rather plain face, but I think its cute! The little wren moved inquisitively around the yard even coming to land on the porch railing about 3 feet from me! It than landed on the woodpile and visited my bird feeders before flying off to do more investigating. It makes me think that perhaps I should get a little bird house for it! This is species number 62 for my Andover Yard List!
In my neighbor’s yard I can see the scraggly mulberry tree is just starting to put out its leaves. It is bent at a precarious angle as it tries to reach the sunlight from beneath the larger pines tree and maples that tower over it. Once it has blossomed and the berries ripen it will be covered with fruit eating birds like catbirds, robins, and orioles. In a few days they will strip the tree bare of its fruit and move on.
I intended to go out birding this morning but since I needed to eat breakfast before I left I went and sat on my back porch to count birds while I ate. There were so many species in and around the yard that I ended up spending 45 minute watching and photographing birds! I am not sorry I stayed. It was relaxing and exciting all at once. Each time I saw a new species my heart would start pounding with excitement. It made me feel glad to be alive to see this. It made me glad to be alive today.
And, be sure to visit World Bird Wednesday to see even more amazing birds!