Not literally. That is the term that I have picked up from other birders when there isn’t much to see. I was out at Eagle Creek by 6:00 this morning hoping to be there bright and early for any owls still up and moving and for when the shorebirds decided to start their day on the mudflat. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see besides the regulars.
Then, right when I was heading back to my car, a black and orange streak whizzed by my head. I had already seen several similarly colored Baltimore Orioles, but this bird was much smaller, warbler-sized. That narrowed it down pretty easily: American Redstart!
This is a bird I had never seen before other than on the pages of my Peterson guide. It was very nice ending the day with a lifer, especially since I had to work for this picture after the initial sighting. The bird hid itself pretty well in thick tree cover but was taunting me by singing its song that Peterson describes as zee zee zee zee zwee (it turns out that this description was actually helpful for me to identify the bird). After combing the treetops in the area where the zeeing was coming from, I saw it dart out and cross over the path again. It eventually settled in the tree pictured above, which made it easier to see and allowed me to get one passable photograph.
After about 15 minutes of stalking the Redstart with binoculars, I was approached by two other birders who looked to be much more expert than I with their probably several-thousand dollar cameras. They asked me what I had, and they were very excited when I pointed it out. One of them said it was either staying on its summer grounds really late or migrating pretty early.
I guess the progression of bird migration goes shorebirds then warblers then ducks. If today was any indication, the warblers are about to start coming back through Indy very soon, because there were almost no shorebirds and my one lifer was very unexpected.
My day list is on eBird.