Perhaps you've noticed an uptick in the number of
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in your yards?
That cool front brought in more birds. They are being seen sipping nectar from every available source, chasing each other mercilessly and getting in other birds' faces, too. What a fun time to watch them as they exercise those wings to be ready to move on.
A long-distance migrant that has nested in our neighborhood is the Mississippi Kite. They are graceful, acrobatic flyers, catching insects like dragonflies, and even bats, on the wing. We've had them land in the very tops of our trees and they've been difficult for us to see there, let alone photograph. I have been hearing them call "Phee-phew!" and found this immature bird in our neighbor's tree. The banded tail is what tells us this is a young bird. They're beautiful, pearly gray, small raptors and are now on their way to South America. Look closely in the last photo to find the tell-tale silhouette.
Learn more here: Mississippi Kite
American Goldfinches, on the other hand, will be here all year. They have been gorging on the Purple Coneflowers and feeding their brood of fledglings. The youngsters are now learning their way around.
Carolina Chickadees and Carolina Wrens also are resident birds. They run the place, in case you didn't know. They show the migrating birds by their cheerful calls that they find everything they might need, right here in our Sanctuary.
Eastern Phoebes and Common Grackles have also been seen. The Phoebes will move a bit further south for the winter while the Grackles will be in and out all winter. All the birds are getting new feathers in now, being in their summer molt.
The first two warblers came in on 8-16-20 and a Black-and-white Warbler followed two days later. They'll be trickling in for the next two months or so. They don't sing like they do in the spring, but they're just as hungry and must eat 35-50% of their body weight in caterpillars and other small insects at each 'rest stop'.
Monarchs are also in the garden almost daily as they nectar and lay eggs. I found a good-sized caterpillar this morning, munching away on its only food, milkweed leaves. The species that does the best here for them is the Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).
Enjoy Nature's diversity in these waning days of summer.