Over the past few months, I've let my birdwatching fall by the wayside. When I go out walking, I rarely take my binoculars with me, and I've definitely not been on many outings with birding as the sole purpose. But the last couple of days, the birds have taken it upon themselves to remind me of why I love this pass-time so much, of how exciting it can be to see a new species, of how much I love the sound of birdsong, and of the thrill of seeing something unexpected.
I suppose I'll start with my thrill...a few days ago, there was a female Rufous Hummingbird hanging out in our yard! I'd been having a crappy day, was overwhelmed by all of this "stuff" I felt I had to get done before leaving for Whitehorse. P finally convinced me to just sit in the sunshine and relax, and it was when I'd finally settled down to that that a tiny little bird buzzed in and out of my line of sight. I called out in surprise "a hummingbird!" but it was gone as quick as it had appeared. I was feeling it was some kind of a sign, and didn't expect a return visit, but it came and went over the next hour or so. I was able to get a good look at it perched in a slender birch tree near the porch, and P got to see it, too. The Rufous is the only hummingbird listed on the Dawson bird list, it's marked as casual, meaning there have been at least 2 sightings, but not every year and no confirmed breeding record. She was investigating the geraniums and the fireweed, but I don't think she found much nectar there. I saw her again the next morning, flitting around, but haven't seen her since. I hope she's moved on to warmer climes!
That same day I noticed a female Three-toed Woodpecker in the yard, too. I remembered to take my binoculars on my walk yesterday and saw a male Varied Thrush--such a beautiful bird! Just now I was sitting on the porch and saw a female Yellow-rumped Warbler and a male Wilson's Warbler, as well as heard a woodpecker in the trees.
One of my favourite signs of autumn is the Sandhill Cranes heading south. I'd been wondering when we'd see and hear them take their leave, and just yesterday, over the course of the entire afternoon, I think I probably noted something like 100 of them, winging overhead. I love the sound they make as they fly, a sort of rattling "gar-oo-oo". They fly really high, sometimes too high to even see, but you can always hear that call when they pass overhead.
Have the birds begun to migrate in your area, too?