This is a screenshot from BirdCast showing the current migration status for St. Louis County, Missouri as of 4-30-23.
It seems that birds have come in fits and starts, and we're seeing migrants, but not as many species as we've
typically recorded by now. Southerly winds later this week will be a welcome change and help bring in the birds.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets have been regular visitors, note the insect leg poking out of the bird's mouth in the first photo! They love to get in the bubbler.
For the first time, we've seen a female Eastern Towhee get in and bathe, and it's been back on half a dozen days now.
Sparrows include Swamp, Chipping and White-throated. It seems like everywhere I look I see the White-throated! They are the most numerous right now, singing their plaintive songs all day long.
A Hermit Thrush is occasionally seen, but Swainson's Thrush now predominate.
Migrating finches are well-represented. Female Purple Finches, Indigo Buntings and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have been here for days.
Red-breasted Nuthatches can be seen again through mid-May since it was a good irruption year for this species.
They're back! Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been seen at the feeders and checking out the coral trumpet honeysuckle.
Vireos love to splash-bathe, but this is the first time we've seen a Warbling Vireo enjoy this behavior. This bird hit the pond, the bubble and even dive-bombed a Cardinal that was in the basin!
NOW...for the warblers.
Yellow-rumped have been most numerous, male and female are in the second photo.
A Northern Waterthrush found tiny larvae in the algae, as the Swamp Sparrow had done.
Tennessee and Nashville Warblers typically show up about the same time.
Orange-crowned Warblers have been at the sump puddle and at the bubbler. It makes my day to see one show its crown!
Palm Warblers are attracted to our cypress tree and to the swampy thicket. There have been a couple of them around.
My breath caught when I saw this yellow-throated bird climb onto the bubbler rock from the cover of the Virginia creeper and celandine poppies. It slipped back into cover and hopped out onto the little path between the violets!
That, my friends, is the promise of Spring migration!
We just never know what might have dropped in the night before
and will surprise us in the morning.
To view all the images since the last post, begin here:
April in Bloom!
So many beautiful natives are blooming now, here are a few.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) have been feeding bumble bees and offer nectar to butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. Some blooms are decidedly pink, a natural variation in color determined by a higher pH in the soil.
Red Buckeye blossoms (Aesculus pavia) are opening and beckon Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, due to arrive any day!
Eastern Redbuds are at their peak, attracting tiny pollinators.
This plant takes many forms, and though not blooming, it pays to be aware of it and give it a wide berth. Do you know it? Poison Ivy! (Toxicodendron radicans) "Leaves of three, let it be!" (Not good for us, however, it does attract insects and provides berries, both food for birds.)
Tiny native mining bees (Andrena spp.) are ground nesters and pollinators of Blue Violets. I finally took time to watch them go head first down into the flower to gather pollen, then back out quickly and fly to another.
One breezy day, I followed a small Black Swallowtail to where it landed and sheltered out of the wind, on a Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum).
An immature accipiter came into the woodland on 4/1/23 and stayed on this branch for just over an hour, likely digesting a meal. It gave me time to study it and identify it as a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
It is in the same family as the Cooper's Hawk, and this composite photo shows how similar and confusing they can be. The Sharp-shinned are migrating through in April, whereas the Cooper's are year-round residents. A pair has begun a nest in a white pine in an adjacent yard. Birds will need to be on alert now.
Eastern Bluebirds have been busy and now have five eggs in their nest. The female takes very quick breaks to come and get a drink while the male watches the nest box.
Carolina Chickadees also keep close to their nest box. Soon, they'll be bringing inchworms and tiny moths to feed their young.
We moved box #2 to a different location. There has been interest by another pair of bluebirds and this Downy Woodpecker.
This female Downy Woodpecker was not pleased with that male. "Mine!" We have at least two pair of this species around, there's always competition for food and nesting sites.
Mourning Doves display affection for each other throughout their courtship period, and they mate for life. They seem very comfortable here.
The first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the year popped in at the bubbler on 4/7/23. It was a quick look around.
Just the other day on 4/13/23, our FOY #58 Yellow-rumped Warbler finally showed up at the sump puddle in the swampy thicket. It was not seen again. I've also heard Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Northern Parula singing, but no photo opportunities as yet. Birds are in a big hurry right now! Here's a look at peak migration dates. Global Big Day is Saturday, May 13, 2023. Birds will be moving through for the next six weeks.
Migration Map courtesy Cornell Lab
Our sanctuary is feeding residents and ready to welcome the migrating birds! Is yours?
Thanks to everyone who watched my program in the Partners for Native Landscaping Series.
There are a few in-person events yet on the schedule.
Find a way to get more native plants into your landscapes, help regenerate diversity and get on the map!
Tornadoes possible tonight - stay safe everyone!
Last time, you were all left hanging with a puzzle. How did you do?
So, the little details I had noticed were the hearts in the undertail feathers! In the lower left is a new shoot of the Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), which is also what the wren is perched on. Yes...it does favor a snake in a way.
The video above shows a few of the critters recorded by our cams during the night.
The lovely scent of the Clove Currant (Ribes odoratum) fills the air now.
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are in bud in several places in the garden and woodland.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is also in bloom and with winds like today, they won't last long.
A Swamp Sparrow bathes, a Fox Sparrow scratches for seed and a Song Sparrow perches on Spicebush (Lindera benzoin).
Eastern Phoebes have claimed their spot under the gazebo and the nest is near completion. This pair chased off another to keep the prime location. More habitat is really needed for birds.
The Eastern Bluebird nest looked nearly ready the last time I checked. Both birds have been busy catching insects, and the female may soon be ready to lay eggs.
Carrying feathers is a sure sign that the Carolina Chickadee nest must be nearly ready, too. The joint is hopping with activity!
The last few weeks, I have been busy preparing a program entitled, "Our Garden is for the Birds", to share through the Partners for Native Landscaping Series, hosted by the St. Louis County Library. The webinar was recorded last Tuesday evening and it was very well received. It's heartening to know that so many people want to convert a portion of their yards to native plants. We are all needed to help the birds, bees, butterflies and more! All of these programs in the series are free and open to the public.
To register for remaining programs and more information about upcoming in-person events:
If you'd like to view my program as well as others in the series, check out this link:
Thanks for watching!
Today at 4:24 pm CDT. Officially.
An Eastern Phoebe arrived earlier than usual, on February 28, picked up by our Haikubox bird call detector. I saw the pair the next day.They went AWOL for a while but returned on March 15. Time will tell if they choose the same nesting spot again.
We put up the chickadee nest box on Thursday, March 2 in the afternoon. The next day we had 2.8" of rain which put a damper on activity. But on Saturday morning, March 4, a Carolina Chickadee got pretty excited and began preparations!
Big hugs and thank you's to D.A.W. and L.A.W., two of my favorite comic (and comical) consultants,
for helping with descriptive bird language for the Chickadee video!
The first winter Chipping Sparrow has been seen regularly through Monday, March 13. Here it was taking a bit of a nap on a breezy day.
For many of you, a Northern Mockingbird may be a regular in your yard. Here, I'm lucky to have one each year. This bird arrived as FOY #44 on March 8 and has been seen 11 days in a row, a record!
Another infrequent winter visitor/migrant is the Fox Sparrow, FOY #46. This year, one to three birds have been around and it was new bubbler bird #126 on St. Patrick's Day. They are often in the leaves, looking for small insects and under the feeders for seed.
Another beautiful sparrow that is quite at home foraging in the leaves is the Swamp Sparrow. This one certainly has great camouflage.
A Red-breasted Nuthatch is still here, caching food and on this day, it checked out the new bubbler perches, bathed and preened.
Eastern Bluebirds are seen daily, still visiting the birdbath and window box for a quick tidbit or most often flying down to catch insects in the leaves. They are still checking out every box option, even one with an entrance hole that is not quite their size!
"Pale Male", our resident Red-shouldered Hawk, was in the woodland a couple days ago, hunting hopefully.
Just moments ago, one of the Carolina Chickadees carried moss into the nest box. We are hopeful for a successful breeding season!
It has been a busy few weeks of watching webinars on different topics and preparing new programs, so I'm a bit behind schedule. But every day, it's important for each of us to spend some time in Nature, time to look, listen and breathe it in. I saw something in the photo of this Carolina Wren that I'd never noticed before. Can you spot it?
The details of Life are exquisite! Happy Spring!
Will Spring be Early?
We "Spring Forward" on March 12, 2023 at 2:00 a.m.
The first day of Spring, or the Spring Equinox is Monday, March 20, 2023 at 4:24 p.m. CDT
Signs of spring seem to be all around us. Barred Owls are calling before dawn. Northern Flickers and Mourning Doves have been seen mating. The male White-breasted Nuthatch fed its mate a peanut as a promise to help raise their brood. The dawn chorus has really picked up and birds like this Blue Jay are putting a lot of effort into sprucing up for a mate.
Now that is a vigorous bather if ever there was one!
Our tree thinning and pruning was completed by Valentine's Day, so it was time to put up the nest box for the Eastern Bluebirds. On Friday, February 17, we had just finished, and as I got to the front door, I turned back to look. Good grief! The female was at the opening and the male was on the roof! I scooted inside to where the camera was ready.
There was certainly a lot of interest in the nest box! The dominant pair seemed most likely to win.
The next morning, Saturday, February 18, I checked and there was the beginning of a nest already. The pair had certainly laid claim to this box.
Eurasian Tree Sparrows (squatters!) came by but didn't stay long. The Eastern Bluebirds were successful nesting here last year, and have been protecting the box. However, we decided it might be time for a second nest box, two per acre is acceptable.
For the first time this year, a female Red-breasted Nuthatch came in to the peanut feeder. This bird is very pale compared to the males, with gray feathers on its head. The next photo is a composite to show both sexes.
The male's head feathers are black and the breast is much rustier.
This Song Sparrow was Bubbler Bird #27 for the year. The immature Cooper's Hawk joined us at lunchtime one day as (first of year) FOY #40. Happened to catch it eliminating and ready for another meal!
The Brown Creeper shows up early and again at mid-day. The Rusty Blackbirds come in small flocks of 4-12 birds, turning over leaves in the swampy wetland area. This habitat in our yard is the biggest draw for these birds, and where they forage for invertebrates. Their camouflage is perfect, wouldn't you agree?
The rare first winter Chipping Sparrow is still being seen nearly every day. Its fellow migratory companions won't arrive until the first week of April. For the last ten years, more of this species has overwintered in Missouri, toughing it out here rather than moving to Southern states.
Dan put together another nesting box for the Eastern Bluebirds and it went up Sunday afternoon, February 26. Another pair of birds were investigating it within minutes of us getting back inside. Was this the young female that had fussed about the other pair getting the first one?
While the bluebirds wait for the stars to align and nesting season to fully begin, the woodland flowers are waking up.
Celandine poppies, round-leaved ragwort and Virginia bluebells are coming up through the leaves, which protect their crowns on frosty nights.
Soon, it will be be Spring in earnest!
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