Change of the Guard

I thought this year I’d catch it, the day when Barn Swallows leave the lines over the farm field to be replaced by Starlings. But once again, they made the switch as I looked away. They were still there Tuesday, and today… gone.

Fall migrants are just beginning to trickle back. For the next weeks I will be driving myself mad trying to identify Confusing Fall Warblers and Even More Confusing Fall Shorebirds. This afternoon one of the easiest to ID hopped in the front yard bushes, an American Redstart in its juvenile lemon-drop plumage.

Here’s a useful page from my 1966 Golden field guide. This is a good example of why we birders have half a dozen (or more!) guides — every one arranges things differently, depicts the Ideal Bird subtly differently, or like Golden, shows all the fall warblers and headshots of sparrows in a single location. There is no One Perfect Field Guide!

Just look at all those little yallery-greeny creatures! Now reflect that they’re busily foraging for the long trip ahead and darting around at warp speed. You can understand the temptation to give up and call ’em all CFWs.

Categories: Tools of the trade, What am dat bird? | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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