I went out to western NY again. On Eagle Island, nesting in a corner above a garage door, my first Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe, tyrannidae). She preferred to sit facing into the corner, with her tail (it reminded me of a mockingbird’s in its square stiffness and its up-and-down waggling) hanging out. When I’d come out the back door, or the garage door, she’d fly off and perch on a chopping block 20 feet or so away. We’d thought the nest was abandoned when I was there four weeks ago, so you’d think the eggs would be hatching soon. It was chilly, so maybe she was brooding actual chicks, I guess, but I don’t know if they do that. I wish I’d photographed the nest, but I didn’t want to freak her out even more. It looked a lot like this wood-pewee nest, down to the speckles of mud on the walls (this bird carries mud in her tiny beak for nest-cement, and loses plenty on the way).
Driving home, saw a bird perched in a tree along the side of the road – all bright scarlet, with black wings. I’m pretty sure this was a Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea, thraupidae). I’d heard them singing in the general neighborhood.
At the memorial service, on Seneca Lake, I heard and saw a Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina, emberizidae). The fields there were alive with Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica, hirundinidae). This I think I’d seen before, at the Eagle Island docks, but haven’t been able to be sure. It’s a gorgeous and graceful bird, with coloring that reminded me of a bluebird’s. Europeans refer to their less-attractive variant of this species simply as “swallow”, so this helped me visualize my Monty Python properly. It is of course absurd to suggest that this bird could carry a coconut. I also heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee hollerin’.
Along the shore, the grass was full of storksbill!
I improved the car ride with bird song. When I did the quiz section at the end, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% recognition of those 95 songs.