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A diary of birds I've observed, spiced up with photos and occasional commentary. Clockwise from top left: Burrowing Owl, Red-breasted Merganser, Yellow-breasted Chat, Purple Gallinule, Summer Tanager, Gray Hawk, Virginia Rail, and (in center) Magnolia Warbler.

Wild bird montage shadow
Special archives:

Bird photos

Captions identifying the birds in these photo montages are found on the Wild Birds intro page.

Birding Web sites:

Reciprocal links:


Conservation links


July 12, 2024 [LINK / comment]

Birding in Virginia [& North Carolina], August 2023

August 5: After a visit to Staunton's new recycling center in the morning, I headed over to the hilltop at Montgomery Hall Park, where I immediately heard the persistent songs of an Eastern Wood Pewee and an Indigo Bunting. I walked along the trail into the woods, and was delighted to see a Worm-eating Warbler, as well as a couple Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Along "Yulee's Trail" down the hill, I saw several Brown Thrashers, presumably a family, and heard a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Perhaps of more significance, we finally have hummingbirds at our back porch feeder! They usually arrive right around August 1, and last year it was at the end of July.

August 10: I stopped at Leonard's Pond on the way back from Harrisonburg today, and saw a few Solitary Sandpipers, Killdeers, and a Semipalmated Sandpiper or two. At the Hardee's pond in Verona a Great Blue Heron was perched on the "islet." Finally, along the Mill Place trail I saw a family of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and an Indigo Bunting.

Birds 2023 Aug 10

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Indigo Bunting, Solitary Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Great Blue Heron, and Killdeer. (August 10, Leonard's Pond & Mill Place trail)

August 14: Jacqueline and I went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the first time. On our first full day there (Monday) we spotted an Osprey on a nest on a platform in an ocean inlet near the Sugar Creek restaurant in Nags Head, and soon three others showed up. Perhaps a recently-fledged family? Then we drove south and explored the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, where we bought souvenirs and a T-shirt. There we immediately saw a Greater Yellowlegs, and then some Little Blue Herons -- both young (top right) and adult (top center). Other notable birds included Laughing Gulls, Semipalmated Plovers, Double-crested Cormorants, and various terns. (Identifying seabirds and shorebirds is not my specialty.)

Birds 2023 Aug 14

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Semipalmated Sandpiper, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, Osprey, Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plover, and in center, Forster's Tern (prob.). (August 14, Pea Island NWR & Nags Head, NC)

August 15: On Tuesday morning we saw several Killdeers and an Eastern Kingbird or two at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk (technically, Kill Devil Hills), NC. Later we returned to the Pea Island National Wildlife Reserve, and I had excellent closeup views of a Willet and a Sanderling along the beach, as well as a couple Brown Pelicans. On the trail that borders the north end of the main pond I encountered (at a distance) a veritable cornucopia of birds, including White Ibises, Canada Geese, Double-crested Cormorants, and a wide variety of sandpipers and terns.

Birds 2023 Aug 15

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Sanderling, White Ibises, Tern, Killdeer, Brown Pelican, Willet, and Tern. (August 15, Pea Island NWR & Kitty Hawk, NC)

August 16: The final stop during our visit to the Outer Banks was at the Fort Raleigh National Historical Site, where the first (and ultimately doomed) English colony in North America was located, two decades before Jamestown. The first colonial baby: Virginia Dare! I happened to hear the squeaky call of a Brown-headed Nuthatch up in the pine trees, and managed to get some photos of it.

Brown-headed Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch. (August 16, Fort Raleigh National Historical Site, NC)

August 27: Jacqueline alerted me to a Brown Thrasher out back, a clear sign that fall migration for passerines is underway! (For most of the summer they never come here.) So, I headed out to Braley Pond for a vigorous hike and was greeted by -- almost complete silence! VERY un-birdy. For over an hour, virtually all that I saw along the trail were some Red-breasted Nuthatches. As I reached the most distant point of the loop trail I saw a Barred Owl about 50 yards away, but it eluded my camera. As I neared the camping area toward the end of my hike, things started to pick up: I saw an Ovenbird, an American Redstart, some Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and a White-breasted Nuthatch. Before leaving, I checked out the pond one last time and noticed a white object far away. It was an Osprey! One of two Ospreys, in fact. In the pasture by the corner of Braley Pond Rd. and Rt. 250 was a flock of 8-10 American Goldfinches.

August 30: Bell's Lane was fairly quiet in the morning, and a distant Eastern Phoebe was all I saw for the first half hour or so. As I was leaving, however, a Brown Thrasher started causing commotion in the bushes, while a Least Flycatcher was zipping all around, taunting me until I finally got a decent photo. Back home, the young male Ruby-throated Hummingbird has established his feeding territory, while Blue Jays make frequent loud visits.

Birds 2023 Aug 30

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Least Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, Blue Jay, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Eastern Phoebe. (August 30, Bell's Lane & north Staunton)

NOTE: The text in these "catch-up" birding blog posts is mostly taken from Facebook posts I made at the time last year. Additional photos and montages, including individual photos of some of the birds in the above montages, will soon become available on the Wild Birds chronological (2023) page.

July 11, 2024 [LINK / comment]

Birding back in Virginia, July 2023

(NOTE: This is my first blog post on birding since January 3, when I finished a series of such pieces on my birding activities out west a year ago in June.)

July 11: Jacqueline and I drove up to Harrisonburg, mostly for shopping, but also spent some time at the JMU Arboretum. There we saw Wood Thrushes, Northern Flickers, etc.

July 12: Jacqueline and I drove up to Reddish Knob and later hiked for about a mile along the road toward Bother Knob, to the north. We saw several Red Crossbills at close range, as well as Dark-eyed Juncos, Black-throated Green Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, and best of all, a Merlin perched at the top of a spruce tree!

Birds 2023 July 12

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Merlin, Red Crossbills (M & F), Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, and Cedar Waxwing. (July 12, Reddish Knob & vicinity)

July 15: Jacqueline and I hiked for about a mile up the hunter access road that begins at the Boy Scout camp in Swoope, ignoring the high heat and humidity. There were several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and quite a few Eastern Wood Pewees and various woodpeckers, but the latter sort proved too elusive to photograph. LIkewise for the singing Wood Thrush. I got birds of all three primary colors (red, yellow, blue), but the Scarlet Tanager's head was obscured by a leaf. The big highlight was toward the end of our hike, when I saw my very first Yellow-billed Cuckoo of the year -- two of them, in fact! (I had seen a Black-billed one a month or so ago.) At the lake itself we saw a Great Egret, and later on north of Buffalo Gap I had a glimpse of a gorgeous Red-headed Woodpecker flying over a field; that was one of the "target birds" for our hike, since I have seen them around there before.

Birds 2023 July 15

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood Pewee, Indigo Bunting, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Goldfinch, Scarlet Tanager. (July 15, Boy Scout camp & vicinity, Swoope)

tiny tanager

Favorite warblers
(already seen):

  1. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  2. Magnolia Warbler
  3. Prothonotary Warbler
  4. Blackburnian Warbler
  5. Yellow Warbler
  6. Northern Parula
  7. Black-throated Green Warbler
  8. Canada Warbler
  9. Common Yellowthroat
  10. American Redstart

Yet-unseen warblers:
(eastern species)

Yet-unseen warblers:
(western & semitropical)

"Abundant" birds
(ones I normally don't bother counting):