The mornings are quiet. The summer bird chorus has been reduced to a few year-round voices and a handful of procrastinating migrants.
On a crystal-clear morning the sky is radiant. I am used to watching the swallows etching lazy figure eights in the sky-blue vastness. Chimney swifts winging at high speeds like wild flying cigars are also absent. A large flock of white-crowned sparrows spent a few days feasting on the various seed offerings in the yard. They fed intently, moving through the grass almost in unison until some unseen message sent them on their way south. A flock of bluebirds line up fence posts, perfectly in order, preening, resting, and then, in a unified movement, they take flight. I watch the flock until they disappear on the horizon. I wish them all safe travels.
The rose-breasted grosbeaks, orioles, and indigo buntings have already taken flight in the ritual of migration.
The garden and feeders are taking on muted tones, dry seed heads, withering plant stalks, and resident birds sporting their pre-winter plumage. The goldfinches are now in soft shades of brown, streaked with white. They arrive with pine siskins and work over the standing seed heads. What seeds they don’t consume lay scattered on the ground, awaiting another animal.
Exploding milkweed pods cast waves of white fluff, drifting in the wind. A few energetic sparrows follow it and snatch the seeds in mid air.