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Birding Focus: Interesting stories of our feathered friends.

Red-winged Blackbird, juvenile
© George H. Harrison

American Goldfinches
© George H. Harrison

Changing of the Guard

As summer melts into autumn, and the bird nesting season winds down, there are subtle changes occurring in the birds that frequent our feeders and baths. Sometime in August, for example, it becomes apparent that the rose-breasted grosbeaks havenít been around for a while. Have they left already for the South?

A few days later, it will dawn on us that we havenít seen a male hummingbird for a while. Only females (really juveniles) at the feeders. The adults are already on their way to the tropics.

And the backyard is much quieter. No more caroling by the American robins, and the northern cardinal has also gone quiet. The wood pewee hasnít sung for some time, and the red-eyed vireos are silent. Even the mourning doves have stopped cooing.

What happened to the red-winged blackbirds that were at the cracked sunflower seed feeders every few minutes, carrying bills full of seed back to juveniles in the marsh? Have they gone?

And look at those American goldfinches. Theyíre already starting to turn olive-green. Could it be that time already? There are new birds at the pond. Juvenile redwings and confusing fall warblers, fly in and out like a flash. They seem to be in a hurry to get somewhere.

Time waits for no bird, as the sun moves toward the south, so too do the migratory birds. Soon, the whole summer cast will be gone. But, the winter birds from the North will be arriving soon and thatís not so bad.

-- George H. Harrison