BIRD WATCH: Respite from the rain calls to birds, humans alike

POURING RAIN FOR too many days messes with your seasonal clock.

On those rare days when the clouds suddenly part and the sunshine makes you squint, you realize it is still fall.

Endless gray days tend to put you in a winter frame of mind. To realize the sky is still blue and the trees golden is a wonderful surprise.

This wakes up the birds, too, and you never know who might show up.

A winter wren reminded me of this a few days ago.

The bird’s calling gave away its presence. It was scolding the dog and me from the top of a rhododendron bush.

We were obviously walking too close to its dense shelter.

As bold as the rest of its race, it bounced up and down and kept up its sewing machine-like chatter. What a treat.

Winter wrens are everywhere at the cabin on the Hoh River, but in the backyard, they keep a low profile. Perhaps it was dining on some of those fall spiders.

Sunshine after heavy morning rains encouraged other voices to add their calls to the chorus. It began when the clouds disappeared.

Robins were calling loudly from various locations, and my guess is they were checking the trees loaded with ripening berries.

One large madrone tree is loaded. Its red fruit is a splash of color that rivals the golden broadleaf maples and the Japanese maples.

Once the robins and other berry-eating birds begin to harvest this fruit, the calling and arguing will raise the noise level in the yard by several decibels.

Pileated woodpeckers and black-capped chickadees aren’t known for associating with each other, but when rare sunshine livens things up, you never know who will fly by. The giant woodpecker flew across the driveway and landed on a large maple.

That was a little puzzling, but it seemed to be poking and prying into the bark. I imagine it was after some bugs because several of the chickadees were flying around the same spot.

They were also working along the tree’s limbs and searching on the undersides of the large maple leaves. Both of these species were doing what everyone else was doing.

They added their calls to the sounds of other birds looking for food and announcing the sun was shining.

The Anna’s hummingbirds feed almost nonstop at the one feeder still attached to a kitchen window. I can tell about six of them apart, but I don’t really know how many are in the yard.

The males continue to be as beautiful as if it were spring, and they even act like it. Even when it isn’t the nesting season, this hummingbird continues to do his aerial display.

It’s as if he were claiming territory or trying to attract females. Perhaps the sunshine just makes him hopeful.

He may think the front yard is his territory and that the ladies are susceptible to his good looks, but he’s mistaken. Everyone is using the same territory, and I’ve seen the females drive him away.

It is still a good sound when he makes his screeching display flight.

This wonderful day of ending rain and brilliant sunshine ended with the sound of another inhabitant. You can always tell when the tide is in.

The great blue heron flies into the tree where he will spend the night. The sun had almost set when this dark, pterodactyl-like bird swooped into his tree, let out the expected squawk and ended his fishing for the day.

These rare days with no rain after days of almost drowning under it are among fall’s greatest pleasures. It’s easy to see the birds feel the same way.

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Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: [email protected].

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