I've always loved August because, for me, it kicks off the fall season.
Yes, the heat and humidity are still high, but you can just feel the
restlessness of nature.  Various blackbirds and swallows are starting to
move around in flocks.  Mourning Doves course the skies in ever increasing
numbers.  And, birds that don't breed in my yard start to show up here.

Today, my 6am walk around the yard did not reveal anything too unusual
although I had a barn swallow winging by by 6:15.  Things really picked up
a bit later, though.  I was trying to work about 9:30, but the activity in
the apple trees out my office window distracted me.  Canada Warbler,
American Redstart, Red-eyed Vireo, and Eastern Wood-Pewee had joined the
regular resident birds.  I took another walk around the yard about 6pm in
heat expecting to see little of great interest.  Imagine my surprise when I
came eye to eye with an adult Hooded Warbler.  You just never know what
you'll find until you go look.

Here is something else I finally made sense out of today.  I sometimes
using pishing when I see the bushes moving and want to try to get a bird to
pop up into view.  I don't think I pish a lot, but use it once in a while
on just about every walk around I do.  I (finally) noticed today that when
I pished, the local, still-breeding birds (Song Sparrows, Gray Catbirds,
American Robins, House Wrens, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Common
Yellowthroats) all responded to the pishing.  They popped up looking to see
what the fuss was all about.  On the other hand, the other birds that were
just foraging through my yard (see second paragraph above) all dove for
cover or just ignored me completely.  I think the reason is that birds that
were just foraging through my yard had nothing really to defend from a
predator (like a nest or young), and could probably just try to escape the
predator without participating in the group defense mobbing behavior.  So,
instead of helping me get better looks at the migrants, I unintentionally
made it harder to see them.

My friendly advice is:  when the calendar turns to August, use more
patience and less pishing.

Good birding!

Jody W. Enck, PhD
Conservation Social Scientist, and
Founder of the Sister Bird Club Network


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