This morning two sparrow-size gray birds with light-gray undersides appeared on the fence in the yard. At first I thought that they were Northern Juncos, which we see through most of the year, but then I noticed the bobbing tails and the small crowns. They were most likely Eastern Phoebes, which are fairly common in this area although I’ve never observed and identified any in our yard or neighborhood before. They were also probably migrating, although allaboutbirds.com does say that Phoebes winter father north than most flycatchers.
This afternoon I thought I would take advantage of the apparent popularity of our yard for migrants and spend some time watching for them. Fortified with a cup of coffee and armed with a pair of binoculars I spent about an hour on the back porch. Granted I was trying to finish the last 60 pages of Les Misérables and I needed to focus on that, but I also spent some time just watching. Nothing stopped by, not even the locals.
Our bird-watching guide in Acadia National Park remarked that peripheral vision is important in bird watching. That’s not the same as saying that bird watching is about serendipity, but I’ve noticed that some of the best sightings recently have taken place when bird watching wasn’t the primary activity.