Around the end of May or the beginning of June I kept hearing a particular bird in the yard. (When I say yard, it is actually a small woods.) I did not recognize the sound. I am not much of an expert at bird songs and I am not good at remembering the ones that I have heard from recordings. The best way I know to learn them is to stop and find the bird that is making the sound. I tend to be a very visual person so this makes sense. I like to see the bird actually making the sound. Only then do I put two and two together. Previous attempts at learning from auditory recordings only have failed miserably though I haven’t yet tried recorded videos.
Anyway – I kept hearing this chicka weeeyooooooooo. It was very “whistley”. It was practically impossible to ignore. I had tried on one occasion to locate the whistler with no luck. I went out again a few days later. I kept hearing it coming from different locations and this time my little friend did not stop as soon as I arrived on the scene. He moved around a good bit and then finally I thought I had got a sighting of him. He rested for a while on a prominent perch out in the open and I could see him but he was quite high up and hard to get a good view of. “Flycatcher looking with a yellow bill,” was about the best description I was able to make. After consulting the field guide, I was guessing an Eastern Wood-Pewee. Fortunately I was able to confirm this with one of my birding apps on my tablet that had the sound recording for me. The description of the song in the field guide was only mildly helpful. Peeeahweeeeeee is supposed to be the sound which I eventually did hear. Peeeyoooooo was listed secondarily but mine seems to say that much more prominently. I was glad I had the apps recording to confirm my id. A week or two later Jonathan was able to get some photos as well.
He did a lot better with the catbird who though shy, at least stays a bit closer to the ground and thus a bit closer to us for photo purposes. I only see him occasionally as he likes the thicket at the end of the yard and I don’t have any windows that face out that way.
Another bird that has become common around the house is the Red-eyed Vireo. Though a bit tricky to see with all the trees leafed out, still I see him pretty regularly in the backyard.
The vireo and the wood pewee were both lifers for me. Again common birds that I imagine are not too hard to find. I am beginning to consider this my first year as a U.S. birder. With five years of birding in Africa under my belt, it is fun to get to know the birds back home. Other recent birds I have seen were a yellow warbler at a nearby park. That was a lifer and I wish I had had my binoculars for a better view and confirmation. At the same park, there were also lots of Bluebirds, and a near lifer for me, was an Eastern Kingbird which I saw again while driving near my house. Years ago I had seen one, one other time – when one almost died against my windshield. In the end, I am pretty sure I only nicked it. Happy to see two very alive specimens so close to home.