Friday, May 4, 2018

An Avian Symphony

I returned to the Columbia Audubon Sanctuary this morning and was greeted by an avian symphony so intense that birdwatching was a bit of a challenge.  We birders, ambling through a natural habitat, depend on bird calls or songs to attract our attention, allowing us to focus in on the source.  However, when those calls and songs echo from every direction, their origin is not so evident and we must count on movement to locate our quarry; as veteran birders know, this can be a trying and tiring experience.

Now at the peak of their spring migration, a fabulous diversity of songbirds fill Midwestern woodlands: migrant warblers, flycatchers, vireos, wrens, thrushes and tanagers join the chorus of permanent residents.  Some will settle in and stay for the summer, raising their youngsters in the Heartland, while others are merely passing through, on their way to more northern breeding grounds.  Among this mornings songsters were red-eyed and blue-headed vireos, golden-winged and Nashville warblers, American redstarts, northern orioles, scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings and rose-breasted grosbeaks, to name but a few.

The music of spring will continue for several more weeks, until the kids are fledged and the oppressive summer heat quiets the crowd.  Of course, we birders demonstrate the same seasonal pattern, scouring the woodlands in spring and then dodging the heat of summer, impatient for the cool, crisp days of autumn.