Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird
Photo: Inge Curtis

These bluebirds are residents here all year. The first was abandoned but we now have eggs and chicks in two nest boxes. After cool weather, it is now warmer and insects have hatched for parent birds to stuff in the wide beaks of demanding youngsters. They often fly to the ground from a perch for a morsel invisible to us. From a distance, the male plumage looks slate-blue but close-up in the sun they are gorgeous blue and rouge. Evidently, the blue color is created by light scattering (like a prism) whereas pigment is responsible for their sky blue eggshells. Why they are blue to match plumage when many other cavity nesters have white eggs with or without speckles is a question I can’t answer. Recent research confirms that birds tend to be more colorful in the tropics, but our bluebirds are among many exceptions to the rule.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Photo: Inge Curtis

Almost all the Yellow-rumps have left for breeding grounds in the north. They are a pleasure to welcome back in the garden in early fall, quite unmistakable with their yellow rump and side. A large warbler and the only one we expect in winter, often feeding on berries in the middle canopy.

They migrate in large flocks. In the spring of 2001, an estimated 34,000 were seen over Northampton county for two hours. Never here in summer, they are occasionally reported in the west of the state where they rarely stay to breed.

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow
Photo: Inge Curtis

These plump sparrows arrive in late fall and are still here, waiting for an impulse to fly to their breeding range in northern states and Canada. White-throated sparrows peck under the feeder for food spilled by Cardinals and others from sorting through the seed mix for favorites. They are more welcome for not being shy. Of the two morphs, we usually have the kind with a white head stripe instead of tan-colored. A yellow dot behind the bill is cute.

This is my first post since the war began in Ukraine, unusual for me to have inertia in writing.

The war is building a new wall between nations West and East. Migrating birds take no notice of it and people on either side offer them the same welcome. Not so many birds migrate between the Russian Federation and North America or Western Europe, but some waterbirds do, notably the Brant Goose (called Brent in Europe and the UK). They fly back and forth across national borders year after year. Makes me think of Noah’s dove that went forth and returned with an olive leaf.