Birding Hocking Hills in Southeastern Ohioof my suddenly new favorite bird, the Common Yellowthroat. Sidestepping into the soft, green grass, my footsteps quieted, allowing me to listen to the yellowthroat's song fade as I left the meadow and headed into a brushy, wooded edge. On my left, the watery sounds of the slow-moving Clear Creek led me down the path and made me smile. Every now and then, I'd stop and peer over the edge just to make sure the water was still clear (and maybe see a Great Blue Heron or Kingfisher). Further down the path, I slowed as I inhaled that musty wet-wood smell that clings in the air around old wooden structures and was not surprised when I saw a worn footbridge up ahead. Not hurrying over it, I enjoyed the scent and the scenery, but eventually moved on. Only two steps off the bridge, however, a familiar scuffing and scraping sound made me stop. To my right I could see a glimpse of a rufous side through the breaks in the leaves. Quiet and still, I watched as he kicked through the leaf litter. Suddenly, he popped up on a branch, eye-level, and sang, and it wasn’t the definitive “Drink your tea-eeee” song I love to hear the Eastern Towhees sing. It was another song, very pretty, and as he sang, he didn't see me as I admired how the red of his eyes intensified each time he moved through a beam of sunlight. But soon enough he heard me, because at the first click of the camera's shutter, he looked my way. I assumed he would bolt, but he didn’t. He listened as I clicked again…and again, more curious than wary, his extraordinary red eye glowing like a tiny glass marble lit from the inside.
The most cooperative Eastern Towhee I've ever seen!
"Look at me...look at my gorgeous eye...
I'll even sing for you."
Clear Creek Metro Park was fast becoming
the Pinckney Island of the midwest!
Eventually the Eastern Towhee started singing
his beloved "Drink your tea-eeee" song.
Singing his "other song," his feathers were quite
ruffled. I think he was telling another male Eastern
Towhee to move on and find his own territory.