As we look back on this year, we are grateful for all we've been able to do and to witness here in
our conservation garden, Shady Oaks Sanctuary.
JANUARY... brought winter species that we don't get to see every year. The Red-breasted Nuthatch is a special 'irruptive species' and we had them around for months.Their little 'tin horn' or 'yank-yank' song is charming. Red-breasted Nuthatch sounds
Rusty Blackbirds first arrived during 'Snowmaggedon' on 1/12 and were here for the Great Backyard Bird Count. They are a species of high conservation concern and we're always glad to see them find what they need here.
FEBRUARY... A family of Eastern Bluebirds brightened Valentine's Day.
MARCH... Eastern Phoebes arrived on the Ides of March and raised two broods in their nest under the gazebo.
By the end of March, a Louisiana Waterthrush and Yellow-throated Warbler had been seen, bringing the warbler count to four.
APRIL... brought both kinglets, gnatcatchers and more warblers. The first Northern Parula was seen on 4/16. These beautiful, tiny warblers are so intensely marked! By fall, three at a time were in the dripper baths.
For the first time in many years, the exquisite song of the Wood Thrush was often heard in our sanctuary. What a thrill to host this bird that is of high conservation concern. Listen to the lovely flute-like song that has inspired poets: Wood Thrush
MAY... brought in many warblers, bringing the warbler count to 28. It's always a thrill when a Blackburnian Warbler graces us with its presence. How appropriate is its nickname, the 'fire-throat'.
A female Hooded Warbler also stopped in near the bubbler. We had not seen one since 2012.
A Golden-winged Warbler found sustenance in Leaf-tier moth caterpillars on the smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) behind the bubbler. (Always a good idea to have native shrubs around a water feature to observe this kind of behavior!)
JUNE... was busy with parents raising youngsters, like this Tufted Titmouse. Native habitat works, feeding baby birds!
JULY... Ruby-throated Hummingbirds found lots of nectar to feed on at plants like the Cardinal flower(Lobelia cardinalis).
AUGUST... Barred Owls were seen on several days, often being harassed by squirrels!
SEPTEMBER... Fall migrants had begun to arrive and on 9/1, a female Mourning Warbler #114 for the year, popped up in the smooth hydrangeas, finding insects. This skulking warbler is not easy to see for it likes to stay in cover. Another was found in the garden on 9/26.
However, perhaps the finest surprise was yet in store. The rarer hybrid of the Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers, this female Lawrence's Warbler came in with a mixed flock on 9/4.
One of the busiest days of fall was 9/26, when there was a major fallout of birds. Six different species of warblers were at the bubbler at the same time. From left, Nashville in the background, Bay-breasted, Tennessee (4), Northern Parula and Chestnut-sided with two American Redstarts in the foreground.
Then, the birds moved to the east side and they were going crazy over the dripper baths! A Black-and-white Warbler looked on as two Tennessee Warblers flanked the sides of a Northern Parula. It was a memorable day for fall migration here. (Drippers are an easy way to add water to your native garden!)
OCTOBER... Nature doesn't always reveal its secrets. However, this Orange-crowned Warbler gave us a glimpse of its hidden glory.
A tiny Winter Wren was #117 for the year. It arrived on 10/19 and stayed around for nine days. Too dang cute!
NOVEMBER... A family of Cedar Waxwings came to the bubbler for species #80 there this year on 11/10.
DECEMBER... We had a last minute surprise today, New Year's Eve. A "cluster" of Red-winged Blackbirds came in for species #118 for the year! These are a female and first year male, there were also six males that stayed in the wetland area feeding or resting in the trees.
Now the winter visitors like this Dark-eyed Junco and usual suspects will keep us company as the days lengthen again. We have gained 2 minutes since the Winter Solstice. Can you tell?
We hope YOUR year was as good in all respects as ours has been. We've had our highest bird count yet, which inspires us to plant more natives, and encourage others with shared information, programs and tours. The birds need all of us, so do the bees, pollinators and other creatures!
2019 Bird List
29 Warbler Species plus 1 Hybrid
80 species at the Water Features
Look for information in an upcoming January post regarding the St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour held in June.
There will be TEN native gardens to visit, ours will be one of them! Register early, as tickets will be limited.
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You'll receive an email from us every 7-10 days with the link to the latest blog post.