Sunday, October 23, 2011

Birds Have Their Seasons

Birds have their seasons in the Hudson Valley, as everywhere else.

The geese are on the move.  The hummingbirds have long since left us and won’t be returning to our feeders until next year.

So different now from spring and summer, when we’re visited by all sorts:

In April, a fine little rufous-sided towhee appeared among the still-bare branches of a bush.

Palm warblers poked among last fall’s downed leaves.

Coming into May, tree swallows began their mating dance and seemed to nest in every available tree.

In June, baby robins, tucked away in a half-hidden nest, clamored for food.

A catbird lit on the grass, then flew off to issue a warning from a nearby bush.

A female common yellowthroat snagged an insect and held it fast.

A fine green heron posed on a dead tree.

An Eastern phoebe, in search of insects, gripped a branch.

A house wren claimed new territory by collecting outsize branches and filling our two bluebird boxes to the very top.  (And we’d thought they were such sweet little birds . . .)

This fall, we cleaned out the wrens’ dummy nests (as they’re called among the cognoscenti), opened the old boxes so they can’t be used, and put up new boxes in the open, away from the brush.

Now all we can do is wait for spring.

For a Spotify playlist of bird-inspired pieces, click on Birds Have Their Seasons.

Listening List

Pablo Casals, El Cant Dels Ocells

Franz Liszt, St. Francis of Assisi's Sermon to the Birds

Olivier Messiaen, Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps III. Abîme des Oiseaux

Einojuhani Rautavaara, Cantus Arcticus

Maurice Ravel, Miroirs II. Oiseaux Tristes

Ralph Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending

Credits:  All photographs on this blog, unless otherwise indicated, are mine.  For a larger view, click on the photograph.


klahanie said...

Hi Susan,
Lovely. Your photographs are spectacular and the corresponding captions capture such gentle ambience.
And, I thought you might like to know, that Penny the Jack Russell and my shy, humble self, have bestowed a 'Friendly' award upon your good self.
With respect and kind wishes,

Friko said...

Yes, there is a season for every thing on earth. Lovely bird photos; many of your birds are not known here, but I am sure we have some that don't visit you.

It's thoroughly autumn now, I too focus on putting nature to rest. Although I dread the coming of the dark months, there is something therapeutic about following the seasons.

Rubye Jack said...

I still wait for the geese to mark my passage onward. They have not arrived here yet, but will any day now. I wait for the geese to change the times, to bring a new way of seeing, and to mark my passage into the new world and to let us sing a brighter song as winter comes. Come on geese!

Britta said...

Dear Susan,
I assume you took all these lovely, lovely pictures yourself? You must be a very patient woman! Thank you for the pics - there are birds among them I don't even know - I would adopt that catbird instantly!! And all the others. Here I always wait for the cranes and geese to fly over our house (they did it in Hildesheim, Hamburg and now here) - if I hear them, I run out and stare. This year I heard them on October 15th, in the morning at 7:15 - a very true sign of changing season they are.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Susan:
What a wonderful variety of birdlife you are lucky to see where you live. And, how beautifully you have captured them in these stunning photographs.

Living in a city, we miss the wide range of wildlife that we used to see when we lived in the English countryside and there is no doubt that one becomes much more keenly aware of the seasons when one watches the comings and goings of bird visitors.

This is a delightful post which we have enjoyed reading very much.

David said...

So that hummingbird shot really is by you? Che artista! I had no idea you got those exotic creatures on the Hudson - but then I didn't know about half the birds you've depicted. Maybe you have some treasurable recordings of their calls up your sleeve too?

Elaine Sexton said...

Fantastic summing up of the season(s)... love the green heron.. and the playlist!

Suze said...

The photo of the hummingbird should be crowned with some sort of prize.

For some reason, the words at the end of your post about waiting for spring made me feel a tiny, bright sob in my chest which didn't quite make it up to my throat and eyes.

A lovely, lovely journey with you, this morning, Susan. (I am also particularly enamored of the phoebe.)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. wonderful photos - such lovely names for them too ... some so obvious from the colourings.

I must come back and listen to your bird songs ... our Autumn has arrived and now we garner the rest of the late harvests and let nature rest before the return of Spring. For now I'm happy to let each minute take its course.

Beautiful seasonal exchange - thank you .. Hilary

Susan Scheid said...

Gary: Well, I don’t know what I could have done to deserve such an honor from Penny, Jack Russell Terrier and internet star—or, for that matter, from your shy, humble self! I’m pleased indeed that you enjoyed the wander through seasons as told by the birds.

Friko: Here, October is the most beautiful of months, though I do my best not to think about what comes after! As for birds, yes, it’s true, you have many, many not ever seen here. The first big surprise for me, many years ago now, was to realize that your robin is wholly different from ours (and much cuter).

Rubye Jack: Well, that’s a very optimistic take on the coming of winter. I’m going to remember that as the dark days continue to come on.

Britta: Yes, all mine—though I’m not patient in the least, so I miss far more shots than I get. I would love to hear cranes over head. We don’t get them here. I like to think of you stopping whatever you’re doing to rush outside and see them flying by.

Jane and Lance: Yes, it’s true, though city life has much to offer, wildlife (of an appealing kind) can be in short supply. Methinks, if you take the plunge on that house you’re looking at, much may change for you in this regard!

David: Truth be told, hummingbirds (there’s only one found here, the ruby-throat, which you don’t see here, as it’s the female) are among the easiest for snagging pics, as they aren’t scared off by the human with that peculiar telephoto beak sitting nearby. The big trick is to avoid getting the tacky plastic feeder in the photograph. As for bird calls, would that it were so. I’m not very good at recognizing calls and have never attempted to record them. I must instead content myself with going to the Cornell Ornithology site, which, thankfully, has a treasure trove of calls.

Elaine: Thanks for stopping by, and so pleased you enjoyed the playlist, too.

Suze: Isn’t the phoebe sweet? (See my comments to David, above, about the hummingbird snap—still, it’s true, I thought this one came out particularly well, and I’m pleased you thought so too!)

Hilary: If you do come back for the bird-inspired songs, you might find Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Cantus Arcticus interesting. He uses the sounds of arctic birds directly in the score. I had no idea about the existence of him or this piece until I poked around a bit to find more bird-inspired music. What he’s done makes quite an interesting effect. The article, Birdsong and Music, that led me to him, can be found here.

David said...

Stop press: I see you've made it to the BBC Music Mag too, Sue, hymning Mattingly. Photo to boot!

Susan Scheid said...

David: How nice to come home tonight to see your comment! Thank you so much for pointing it out—I haven't received my copy of this month's issue yet, so I wasn't aware this had appeared. It's a nice feature of the magazine, letting us "lay listeners" weigh in like that. That I was given the opportunity by that means to applaud Mattingly, well, let's just say, if I had only one shot to sing a young composer's praises, he's the one I'd pick.

MILLY said...

What a lovely journey through the year with your wonderful bird photographs. We watched the geese fly overhead and leave the estuary. I love it when I hear them returning with their unmistakeable calling.
Today after some tidying in the garden I saw a robin and a wren where I had been raking the leaves. They both nested in our garden this year.
Your birds are different as others have commented. I would be keeping my eyes open for some of their beautiful feathers to draw.

Carol-Ann said...

Sue - I am in awe of your wide-ranging talents. Thanks for spreading the beauty!

Susan Scheid said...

Milly: How nice to find a robin and wren where you'd been raking leaves. It would be fun to see what you would draw with bird feathers over here!

Carol-Ann: Welcome back from your travels! I'm so pleased you enjoyed the bird post. It was fun to survey the photos taken over the year and to be able to share some of them.

Thomas Deneuville said...

I learned today that there were humming birds in the Hudson Valley, in Queens, and pretty much everywhere else in the US!

Beautiful pictures, and great playlist!

Thanks for sharing, Susan...

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