on the move

on the move

while we are enjoying some nearly perfect late summer weather, the birds (triggered by hours of daylight, not temperatures) are already starting to pack up and move south. this flycatcher summers in the boreal forests just to the north of us, and winters in mexico. interestingly, they have one of the shortest stays of any neotropical migrant, often staying less than 70 days in their breeding grounds

i wake up almost every day not knowing what i will photograph today. some days finding my subject is a burden, especially if i am feeling distracted or uninspired. but most days finding my subject is absolutely part of the joy of STILL. it’s like a mini daily treasure hunt. this morning i woke up assuming i would play with the dried gladioli blossoms i pulled from their stems yesterday. but the universe had other plans for my day. sadly, this yellow-bellied flycatcher was lying at the base of my patio doors. reading up on flycatchers, i learned that they are difficult and rare to see in their native summer habitat–deep in the shadows of northern spruce bogs. it turns out, this guy was just passing through on his way south.  a rare, but unfortunate, sighting for us.

yellow-bellied flycatcher  (Empidonax flaviventris)

p.s. here is what the remarkable Cornell Ornithology website had to say about yellow-bellied flycatchers:

  • In 1942, Arthur Cleveland Bent, an American ornithologist, called the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher a “woodland waif.” Bent remarked, “In its summer home its voice betrays it, but there, also, the searcher must invade the moist, gloomy morass of some northern forest bog, beneath the shade of spruces and firs, and endure the attacks of hordes of black flies and mosquitoes, to get even a glimpse.”

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