Monday, May 5, 2014

Hooded Warblers and More at Bent of the River

The newest wave of migrating birds has now reached Connecticut, and my visit to the Bent of the River Audubon sanctuary this morning was definitely colorful! Male Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks all made appearances, and I was happy to get to see all these gorgeous creatures for the first time this year. The sudden explosion of diversity in May really is amazing!

And of course, the warblers have arrived as well. Several Blue-winged and Prairie Warblers were singing all over during my walk this morning, although I only got brief glimpses of these little yellow birds. A male Black-and-white Warbler also showed up to sing his song and creep nuthatch-like around a tree:

I am always amazed by this bird's outfit. So many stripes!

Late in the morning, I got stuck in a battle zone. Two male Hooded Warblers were calling constantly and chasing each other around a group of small trees (jousting over prime breeding territory, I assume). I've only seen Hooded Warblers once before, and that was at a distance, so I was pretty excited at the chance to hang around these birds while they postured and tussled. Again, these are some amazing outfits:

"Hooded" indeed, although this bird's headgear reminds me more of a balaclava. I guess "Balaclava-ed Warbler" is a bit of a mouthful.... In any case, these were some punky birds:

I love all that yellow (and the hood that looks like a beard from below):

Hooray for little birds with loud voices:

Whichever male wins this territory, hopefully there will be Hooded Warbler babies in these trees before too long. More Hooded Warblers, please!

Speaking of making babies, I was happy to see at least one Eastern Bluebird pair setting up their home:

And while the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were courting when I visited last week, they've now moved on to the nest-building stage. This nest is a nice little cup of lichen and spider webs, which the male and female are taking turns shaping:

That's the male gnatcatcher working on the nest in the above picture, with his severe dark eyebrows. Maybe someday I'll get a picture that shows off these eyebrows and their angry expression especially well, but here's a more placid portrait of this male in the meantime:

Here are a few more assorted sights to round out today's visit. A Chipping Sparrow, mid-song:

A Greater Bee Fly (Bombylius major), looking a bit like a flying pincushion with that pointy proboscis:

And a Red Trillium, already gorgeous but made even fancier with red-striped sepals that I don't think I've ever seen before:

May is an awesome month!

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