Winter birds have been arriving in my woods over the past month: kinglets, creepers, sapsuckers, yellow rumps and phoebes. Late migrants like catbirds and thrushes were around just a week or two ago. Arrivals and departures have been the main theme of bird life lately, but today seems different.
A flock of chipping sparrows is foraging on the ground, darting up to low limbs then back among the fallen leaves. Their chestnut cap is now broken by a central stripe and speckled with black, their white eye line replaced by a broader tan stripe. Bluebirds have flocked up and seem to be working similar turf, but with aerial foraging runs and briefer trips to the ground. A pair of hairy woodpeckers, not heard since spring, is crawling and swooping through the treetops.
I think migratory birds have reached their destinations and switched to winter foraging mode.