I am not sure what bird species is my favorite. Clearly, when I was stuck indoors due to health issues and my only connection with the nature world happened from my back patio, I found the Bluebirds which made a nest in a box we hung on the fence in the yard to be ever inspiring. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that would take advantage of the nectar we provided in a feeder on the porch also brought me great joy, as they have no fear of humans while they routinely visit the feeders. I still have a great affection for both those species.
Once I was able to travel about the property again and began developing my photography skills, my favorite species were ones which both tolerated my presence and also stayed stationary for a spell while I practiced focusing my lens. Little birds that flitted about in the shadows of the underbrush left me a bit frustrated.
On the other hand, the fly catchers (like the Eastern Kingbird and E. Phoebe) helped me hone my prowess with a camera. They are prone to remain stationary while they evaluate their local environment for their next meal. Then, once they fly off to nab it, they often return to the same location to start a new pursuit. They are likely to take a position in the open, perhaps on a fence wire that provides a clear focal point. Those are conditions which made it easier to get a good shot.
Since they make a living hunting insects, these gems of the avian world don’t stick around to endure the frigid, insect-poor world in which I live. I’m happy to have captured images of these flycatchers before they took off for warmer places over the upcoming winter.
Recently, I have found it curious to spot an Eastern Wood-PeWee in areas where I typically don’t see them. I even developed the feeling that this bird was specifically hanging out with me!
It often appears that this bird is looking skyward, but I think that’s our human brains overriding what such a bird is probably most interested in. I suspect this cutie is gazing downwards where insects may be moving about in the grass below. It appears that the bird is looking up because their eyes are located on the side of their heads, rather than forward facing like ours.
Unlike the Eastern Wood PeWee (above), the Least flycatcher supposedly doesn’t spend the summer (breeding) months in my location. The southern end of their summer range is about 150 miles north of us (which could possibly result in a summer resident, I suppose.) I have filmed this species in late July and and throughout the Fall migration. These birds are considered a species in Steep Decline. From AllaboutBirds.com “Least Flycatchers are common across the East, but their populations have declined sharply by approximately 1% per year for a cumulative decrease of 43% between 1966 and 2019, according to the North American Breeding Bird Association.”
I’m so happy that we can offer them a place to rejuvenate during their migration to Mexico and Central America – or possibly offer a location for a breeding pair that decides to stick around here rather than traveling any further after their Spring migration.
I haven’t seen either of these beauties for a week or more. I hope they are traveling safely, or have reached their winter stomping grounds and are enjoying the cuisine of tropical insects and fruit that they offer.
Yes insects are suffering but we do what we can with leaving our leaf litter on, native plants, wood piles.