Warblers abound

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Black-and-white Warbler, in the maple tree right off our back deck.

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Good morning, Common Yellowthroat.

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The male Common Yellowthroat has a black mask, the little bandido bug eater.

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Witchety, witchety, he says.

I saw three males near each other in the underbrush out by our pond this morning. I can hear even more out in the wet woods. A female spotted yesterday in the same area. I suspect some will migrate through and two or three pairs will stay around to nest.

Got some cute photos of an almost- fledgling last summer.

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Rain last night in the perfect amount. Sunny day ahead. Wild blueberries are blossoming.

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Walking the dog out past the pond around 7:15 a.m. I spotted a yellow bird flitting from branch to branch up high in a cherry tree. Distinctive song.

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It’s a Yellow Warbler.

I saw one for the first time last May on a birding trip offshore to Star Island, among the Isles of Shoals. (Here’s a Flickr photo album from that trip.)

This Yellow Warbler counts now as a Backyard Bird on my sidebar… number 48.

Males sing a sweet series of 6–10 whistled notes that accelerate over the course of the roughly 1-second song and often end on a rising note. The tone is so sweet that people often remember it with the mnemonic sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet. The songs are a common sound of spring and early summer mornings and may be repeated as often as 10 times per minute.

8:50 a.m. BONUS

Just got some photos of an American Redstart in the woods next to our house! I saw two but heard more.

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A lively warbler that hops among tree branches in search of insects, the male American Redstart is coal-black with vivid orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. True to its Halloween-themed color scheme, the redstart seems to startle its prey out of the foliage by flashing its strikingly patterned tail and wing feathers.

What to expect when you’re expecting…

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… baby bluebirds.

On April 23, I took a pic of the nest with two eggs. Yesterday I discovered there are now four eggs. The female doesn’t seem to be in the nest enough to incubate and hatch the eggs. But maybe soon she will get with the program.

Or maybe this is a pair of slacker bluebirds. Just mooching suet dough off me and posing winsomely for photos. I guess we will find out eventually.

A stripey warbler

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Black-and-white Warbler!

My daughter and I spotted three this morning, where the red pine woods meet the red maple swamp. They were circling up and down tree trunks like nuthatches.

One of the earliest-arriving migrant warblers, the Black-and-white Warbler’s thin, squeaky song is one of the first signs that spring birding has sprung. This crisply striped bundle of black and white feathers creeps along tree trunks and branches like a nimble nuthatch, probing the bark for insects with its slightly downcurved bill.

Oh sweet Canada! (over and over)

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A flock of about 10 White-throated Sparrows has been hopping and scratching around the yard for a few days. They sing first thing in the morning, last thing in the evening, and off and on all day.

Now their pretty song (YouTube video here) is really stuck in my head.

White-throated Sparrows sing a pretty, thin whistle that sounds like Oh-sweet-canada-canada or Old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody. The whistles are even but typically move slightly up or down in pitch by the second or third note. The whole song lasts about 4 seconds. White-throated Sparrows sing often during the breeding season, even in the middle of the day, and on their winter range as well.

Home inspection

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A male bluebird was here yesterday, checking out the real estate.

Sixteen degrees this morning, but the birds are singing their spring songs and the days are fast growing longer. Eleven hours 22 minutes today, we have gained an hour and 20 minutes of daylight in one month. Soon (March 16 here) the day will be 12 hours long – half day, half night.

Maybe I should put out some oranges?

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole, spotted Sunday morning just north of Banfield Road on a walk along an old rail line in Portsmouth.

We saw, and heard, three males.

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The rich, whistling song of the Baltimore Oriole, echoing from treetops near homes and parks, is a sweet herald of spring in eastern North America. Look way up to find these singers: the male’s brilliant orange plumage blazes from high branches like a torch.

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Maybe I should try to attract them to my backyard.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Backyard TipsBaltimore Orioles seek out ripe fruit. Cut oranges in half and hang them from trees to invite orioles into your yard. Special oriole feeders filled with sugar water supplement the flower nectar that Baltimore Orioles gather. You can even put out small amounts of jelly to attract these nectar-eaters (just don’t put out so much that it risks soiling their feathers).

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Birds and Blooms magazine: Feeding Birds With Oranges

Duncraft Oriole Feeders

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Oriole butt.

Here was my teasing oriole description when I posted these pics on Facebook yesterday…

Baltimore Orioles are medium sized songbirds made of orange marmalade, black licorice, and pure, clear, whistling songs. They feed on crabapples, nectar and human tears of joy that winter is over. Find this bird by whispering a prayer to St. Francis and going outside. In winter, some orioles migrate to shade-grown coffee or cacao farms in Central America, while others go to sleep in the cotton canvas folds of patio umbrellas stored in garage attics.

A salute to the backyard flock

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Marianne the Barred Plymouth Rock strikes a classic pose.

My four hens will be 3 years old in a couple of weeks and they are still laying as many eggs as we need for breakfast and baking.

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Grace the Buff Orpington finds little green things and bug larvae out front.

It’s just been in the past week that enough snow melted for some seriously dedicated free-ranging. They are fired up, my ferocious foragers, after being cooped up so much this winter. They want nothing to do with their regular feed.

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Lucy the Rhode Island Red.

Sure they tear up the wrong plants sometimes, or make unsightly bare spots, or create dust bowl wallows in the flower beds. But they fertilize, and till, and get rid of Japanese beetle larvae and other bad bugs.

And they lay eggs.

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Eggs in front are from my hens. The others were white grocery store eggs my daughters and I dyed last night.

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Ella the Easter Egger (Ameraucana) takes a break under the rhododendron. She lays pale greenish blue eggs.

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Spring salad for happy hen.

Happy Easter!