As I am prone to do during the pleasant weather of mid spring and early autumn, I stepped out back last evening to see who might be visiting our property. During my thirty minutes of observation, I discovered three transients amidst the diverse group of summer residents.
A male blackpoll warbler methodically combed the trees of our wood border, feasting on insects before he moves on toward northern Canada. More active was a male Connecticut warbler, identified by his sharp white eye rings, grayish head, olive back and yellow abdomen. The third evening visitor was a solitary vireo, foraging in the upper branches of a black walnut tree; he's likely headed for the forests of the upper Great Lakes region.
These three migrants were joined by the usual mix of cardinals, house wrens, red-bellied woodpeckers, grackles, chickadees, robins and house sparrows. A pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds zoomed through the yard, squadrons of chimney swifts raced overhead, turkey vultures drifted toward their nightly roost and a female cowbird surveyed the woodland, searching for a nest to parasitize. While the common, local residents may be more vital to our regional ecology, the travelers remind us that all of Earth's ecosystems are connected and that suburban rest stops now play a crucial role in that network.