What a day for the birds on Naked Mountain! This morning I sat out on my deck with a mug of coffee and listened to a very intent Scarlet Tanager singing in the top of trees about 50 feet away right in the middle of the fabulous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can see that view on the blog header. The oak and hickory trees are about halfway leafed out so their color is a fresh, yellow-tinged green. I looked through my binoculars to find the bird and there he was – sitting amongst the new leaves, brilliant red with striking black wing feathers against the backdrop of blue mountains. What a picture!
Also singing and announcing their presence were several very loud Ovenbirds, a Yellow-throated Vireo, Rufus-sided Towhee, my favorite singer — a Wood Thrush and a new singer and song I wasn’t familiar with. The bird was working the brushy growth around the deck. It was easy to see in my binoculars – beautiful bright yellow throat and chest with black stripes curving back toward the wings and black markings around the eyes. The olive green back had rusty colored streaks on the upper part of the back and neck. What was it? I grabbed my Sibley Guide to Birds and flipped through the warbler pages. And there it was – a Prairie Warbler! I think this is the first time I have seen a Prairie Warbler on Naked Mountain. As I watched the bird in my binoculars, I picked up views of two other birds working the brush – a Worm-eating Warbler and a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Those are common on Naked Mountain, but it was great fun to see all three of these warblers feeding together!
Then I checked on the Bluebird nesting box I erected in February (See the February 18th post.) I took a step ladder with me so I could peer down into the box from the top opening. When I opened the box, the female Bluebird was there, sitting on her eggs, but before I could get a picture, she flew out. I quickly snapped the picture you see above, latched the opening, and scrammed out of there. I later saw the pair feeding on crawling bugs in my yard, so I am sure she went back to the nest and is still incubating her eggs. I will have to disturb her again next week when I will attach the protective cage to keep snakes from eating the hatching babies.
I also snapped a few photos of wildflowers that are blooming now on Naked Mountain. The Firepink blooms in ten small patches in the dappled woods right next to my upper road. The Bluets
bloom along the middle and sides of the lower road, and the Perfoliate Bellwort blooms in many locations on Naked Mountain, but there is an easily viewed two acre patch of it about half way up my road. I love the bellworts; the stem pierces the leaves so they move in the wind like little, fringed yellow church bells. I imagine I can hear them ringing!