by Melanie and Jim

We’re fortunate to have an extensive paved trail system in our area. The trails connect with broad sidewalks in many places, giving both safe recreation and transportation space for walkers, runners, and bikers.

This morning we went for a walk in our neighborhood, looping away from our house to the west, then northward around a pond, and back in on a deer trail behind the house. The birds make a joyful noise this time of year, attracting mates and defending nests. Redwinged blackbirds trill, wrens chatter, and the red-bellied woodpecker repeats its hoarse, cough-like call.  We hear birds we can’t see, and even the birds we see, we can’t always identify.

Today’s first notable bird-spotting was a male Eastern Bluebird. They like areas that are mostly open. It was perched on a small tree, but it flew away before Jim could capture it with the camera. Beyond that, above the tall trees, floated a red-tailed hawk.

Jim especially hoped to photograph a meadowlark today. We often see them in the grassy areas, but they don’t stay still very long for photos. Instead we saw a speckled bird (little brown jobbie?) a bit smaller than a robin. Any ideas for identifying this one?

On the way back toward the house in an area more thickly wooded, we both heard a mystery-bird. High in the trees, we couldn’t see it. We kept moving toward the sound until we found the correct tree. The song tripped my memory and I said, “It’s an oriole.” Why I was so certain, I don’t know, as we don’t enjoy orioles around here much. But that gave us a color to look for. The bright orange of these birds would make it easier to spot. Finally Jim saw it and was able to get a couple of good photos. Handsome fellow, isn’t it?

I remember long ago hearing a radio talk show. The hosts were visiting with a caller who talked about birding outings, and how they sometimes would have blind people join their group. The radio hosts were surprised that blind people could identify birds. In fact, often the call is the easiest way to “spot” them.

One last note, if you aren’t aware of the great website All About Birds, you should take a look. It’s like having the best bird book ever, including audio recordings to boot.


15 thoughts on “Birdsong

  1. Elyse

    I love the pictures – thanks. Reading this post was kind of like extending my early morning walk in the woods and fields where I take Duncan every morning!

    And thanks for the website. I know a lot of birds, but there are more I don’t know! (AND, I’m an hour from Baltimore and NEVER see orioles (except on baseball caps).

  2. BJ Good

    So lucky you were to see & hear the Baltimore oriole. Kind of a misty eye moment for me. I recall my mother saying it was always a special moment when she had an oriole encounter.

  3. melissabluefineart

    Wonderful shots! I’m wondering if the mystery bird might be a juvenile red-wing blackbird??? Just a guess, really. The oriole photos are wonderful. I have a headless shot from last summer!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      dingdingding! That looks like a winner. Yes, likely a juvie. Aren’t orioles beautiful? Jim was lucky to get such good pix. The bird was 40 feet above him.

  4. shoreacres

    That’s why “bird-watching” became “birding.” There’s more than one way to find a bird, as you so nicely point out. Have you ever put out oranges for your orioles? I have friends who’ve done it, and they have flocks of them that descend. There are instructions all over the web for how to do it, but it’s basically: (1) cut an orange in half, (2) mount it somewhere that the birds can get to it. Easy-peasy!


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