Cheap Thrills……. – June 17, 2006

Tonight after work I wanted to hike the gorge trail just to exercise. The birding activity is usually pretty slow in the heat of the afternoon. Boy, was I wrong! I started out by following a Least Flycatcher to her nest. She has a small nest way up in a White Pine stuck out on the end of a branch.

While I was noting where that was so I can come back and watch it, a vireo was calling out. It had the slow rhythmic call of a Solitary, or Blue-headed Vireo. Then there he was! Sitting right out in the open in a big White Pine. I got some excellent looks at his white spectacled eyes and the blue, gray of his head. He continued to vocalize and I watched as he scolded me in only the way that vireos can. The scolding call is a harsh trill and his beak would vibrate with the sound. I’m telling you this was an incredible sighting! Blue-headed Vireo (be sure to listen to the recording that is offered on this link; it is excellent) I could have continued watching but my neck was getting strained; he was a ways up in the big tree. Oh it would be great to find out where the nest is. My guide book says they can have 2 broods in a season.

Well on with the walk, the bugs aren’t too bad. I wanted to walk to where I had thought I’d seen some Northern Parulas making a nest. According to the MOU website, there isn’t a nesting record in St Louis County for the Parula. I can’t believe it! There are so many up here.

I decide not to walk that far and turn around. Just then I walk into a Winter Wren family group! They are all over in the brush, they’re vocalizations are loud clicks, they are in a panic! Mom and Dad are trying to gather up the little ones, I think I count 3 babies in the brush. The panicked parents are scolding me in loud voices! They come out of the bushes and I can clearly see them. They are a tiny bird, a rusty, cinnamon brown color and their tails are held straight up! This is incredible! These little birds spend their lives in the thickest brambles of bushes you could ever imagine. You can usually only hear their beautiful tinkling calls. WOW! I wish my bird group a couple weeks ago could have experienced something like this. Now is a special time of the year because the birds are having their babies, they are fledging the nest and sometimes it is easier to see their activities.

And then to top off the evening as if nothing else could happen I hear the call of the Swainsons Thrush – it is a beautiful song. The difference between the Swainsons and the Hermit Thrush is that the Swainson’s song starts the same; the Hermit makes a call note and then the notes immediately go up the scale. Good night.

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